Friday, December 08, 2006

I haven't got time for the Pain

Tuesday morning I woke up in excruciating pain. Not a good time to be sick! Tuesday is when I climb the mountain with Jack and get a chance to tell the mountain climbers about Jesus. Jack has been busy for two weeks and we have missed climbing. Today we the return to our habit and I would have hated to cancel. So I didn’t.

One the way to the mountain to meet Jack the pain got worse. I wasn’t worried. I get this pain once a year or so. It seems to be pancratitis, related to being a Diabetic. I know from experience that it will get nearly unbearable and then go away in 24 hours. Intellectually, I know that laying down or working make no difference to the pain. So I might as well bite the bullet and go do what I should do.

However, the pain can start speaking to you. It started telling me that I have been speaking to Jack for nearly 18 months about Jesus and still he is not interested. The Pain told me that I would not be a very good communicator when I thought more about the hurt than the message. But still I drove on to the mountain.

Jack met me there right on time and I could tell he was glad to back on schedule. He could see on my face that I did not feel good and started once again to lecture on the virtues of mountain climbing for health. Thankfully, Jack had a lot to tell me and I did not have to talk much on the climb up. He told me about his household projects and remodeling. He told me about his son and his wife and all their comings and goings. He told me how he started to raise rabbits last year, but had to give them all away this year because he can’t bring himself to kill them for food (though he loves to eat rabbit meat still).

As we ascended the mountain my pain got closer and closer to its peak and I got less and less anxious to do any talking. Jack happily took up the slack. He acted like a good friend, being there as a comfort and making no demands on his friend who clearly was having a bad day.

On top of the mountain, Jack made way for a tent with table and chairs that was not inhabited. For once, we did not join the others despite their invitations. I thought Jack was just being considerate to my needs. I was wrong.

Jack started to make tea after he could see that I would not be eating the breakfast he brought. After getting all the tools ready, he realized that he was out of tea! So he went scurrying around to the other climbers asking for tea. I almost fell asleep! He came back with some nice Roasted Tea and fixed us a pot. As we settled back to enjoy the tea Jack asked the most philosophical question he has ever asked me.

“What do you think is the reason for this life?” he said slowly and seriously.

For the next hour we spoke of Jesus with a seriousness and depth that Jack has never shown before.

For the next hour all the pain in my chest and belly fell to a numbness akin to a minor headache. I barely noticed it.

Jack finally admitted to me that he and his wife have been talking about their beliefs a lot lately. They have talked to their Catholic friends and to some Mormons that knock on their door from time to time. Jack admitted that the Buddhism from his family and the Catholicism from his wife’s youth just don’t seem to be giving them any answers. They have talked together about all the things Jack has heard me say about the Jesus of the Bible.

So, last week, Jack and his wife prayed that Jesus would come and live in their hearts!

But this week, as they talked about it, they said nothing had really changed. So they don’t have any confidence in their faith. They are not sure that they really know what they are doing or if the Lord answered them.

We talked about faith verses feelings, and promises verses circumstances. I asked Jack some very pointed questions about asking Jesus to be Lord. Jack said that he WANTS to see Jesus make a difference, but he just doesn’t want to be “sold-out” and called a “Christian” yet.

Though that may sound disappointing... this is actually INCREDIBLE! I didn’t do anything to change Jack’s attitudes... it was the Lord, the Holy Spirit working in his life. It was prayer from the Saints for Jack that changed his world view and is now leading him down the razor’s edge of Faith in Christ’s Sacrifice and Resurrection! This is the power (the dynamite) of the Gospel! Not that men can go and change other people, but that the message can cause the heart to change and that the Spirit can cause the mind to open.

Pray for Jack that he can gain CONFIDENCE in his faith. Remember Romans 11:1 - Faith is the confidence in things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Pray that the Lord places evidences in Jack’s path so that he can gain the confidence in things Jesus has promised.

Christmas Musak

Today I sat in a McDonald’s and munched on a nasty cheeseburger and waxy fries. Hey, sometimes you need the comfort food from home. Besides, Mickey D’s has A/C and wireless internet. I had a couple of hours to kill and a laptop full of homework to finish, so I sat down to eat lunch and knock off some chapters of my Hermeneutics Class.

Sometimes it is hard to know what holidays from home are coming up, because all of the cultural markers that we grow up looking for a simply not present here. But Christmas seems to be a year round event here. You can hear Christmas Music and see Santa Clause everywhere in Taiwan all times of the year. I know a couple of churches and stores that have “Merry Christmas” banners up year round. It speaks more to a cultural seeking of good luck charms rather than any particular love for the holiday.

As I sat in Ronald’s house of arterial blockage, I noticed the music was almost totally Christmas Music this time. OH! Sure, it is Christmas time for real now. I soon notices something else. This was REAL Christmas music... not the typical Jingle Bells and You’d Better Be Good silliness that I hear the year through. They were playing songs that spoke of the Lordship of Jesus and the Salvation that he brings!

I was overcome in the Holy Spirt! Here I am in the middle of a restaurant with other people, as we all eat our cheeseburgers (a kind of cholesterol communion) and we are all totally oblivious to the declaration of the Good News of Jesus Christ that is being pumped into our ears. It was just noise. It was just a feel good, toe-tapping, emotional engineering SOUND that helped one to digest the meal.

I wanted to run around the room and ask people if they understood.

Are we just a noise that people associate with Christianity? Are we just a sound that helps the world be diverse and multicultural? Or are we the messengers of Good News that is above and beyond culture, nationality, race, religion, and culinary tastes?

Oh Lord, that my message is more than musak in the department store.