I finish shopping. Put my bags in the back of my Traverse. Jump back behind the wheel and look over at my dash-mounted phone cradle. NO PHONE!? Where’s my phone?!?! I’m certain I left it in that cradle!!!!
I spend the next minutes frantically checking the car. Under the seats. Inside the glove box and center console. Back trunk area. Even on top the car and the hood. Under the car on each side.
Then I retrace my steps into the store, scanning the parking lot for my camo-cased phone. Finally, I end up at the service counter, where I ask, “Has anyone turned in a Motorola phone in a camo-case?” “No,” came the response.
That led me back to my car and checking it through yet again. But now I was wondering, “Did I forget to lock the car? I’m sure I left my phone in the cradle!” I went back into Walmart and the service center and asked—a second time--about my phone. Again came the disappointing answer, “No, sir. No one has turned in a phone.”
Crushed, I limped my way back to Trinity where I asked to use the office phone. Not that I was all that concerned about my lost phone. It’s not worth that much. (I refuse to spend hundreds, much less thousands of dollars on a phone!!) But I was gravely concerned about the usernames and passwords I had stored on that phone. Even though my phone is locked with a pin, I envisioned clever hackers breaking into my phone in seconds and gleefully emptying my bank accounts, one by one. Then I envisioned these same nefarious scoundrels buying homes, cars, Mitey-toon electric pontoon boats, you name it—with my identity! I could see them sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere---all because of Glenn Schwanke’s stolen identity.
So I called my credit union. Credit card company. Investment manager. I called my cell company and asked them to disable my phone so calls couldn’t be made.
Then I raced back home and logged into every last one of my online accounts and changed every username and password. I spent the rest of the day doing this!
Late that evening, I was using my tablet, and I googled, “What to do if your phone is lost or stolen?” I was surprised to learn that I could use my Google account to locate my phone. So I tried it from my tablet. My phone showed up as being in Coldwater, MI. Yikes! The nefarious villains are taking a circumlocutious route to the Bahamas on my dime! But then I tried the location software again. This time the map showed. . .. Walmart, Minocqua.
Through my Google account, I could also wipe the data from the phone. So I did that—out of an abundance of caution.
Then I called the service desk at Walmart. Yes, my phone had been turned in. Where it had been found, and who turned it in, no one there knew. Relieved, I told the associate I’d be in the next morning to retrieve my phone.
As it turns out, my identity hadn’t been stolen. No clever hackers sipped margaritas at my expense. Using Google software, I could even restore all the data and apps on my phone. But this time-consuming, wearying episode made me appreciate all the more the eternal, guaranteed identity that Jesus bought and paid for with his perfect life and innocent death—an identity graciously given to you and me by the Spirit working through Word and Sacrament. The Apostle Paul tells us, “In fact, you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Indeed, as many of you as were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. There is not Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, for you are all one and the same in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26-28, EHV)
My friends, treasure your identity in Christ. . .and never lose it.
Privileged to serve,
Rev. Glenn Schwanke