“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” —1 John 3:18, ESV
I didn’t set my alarm last night so I woke up late, rushing to take a shower, get dressed etc. I realized I wasn’t going to have time to sit down with God for my morning devotions so I decided to attempt to do them on the train. I knew the train ride normally only took about twenty minutes, but it was better than nothing, even though I was disappointed with having to cut my quiet time with God so insanely short. But then, as I was sitting on the G, reading my Bible and thinking about what I was reading, the train stopped at one station and stayed there for about ten minutes before the conductor explained that the train in front of us was having a signal problem. I thanked God for the opportunity to keep reading and to continue my time with Him in preparation for church. We stayed there for about twenty minutes 🙂 Then, in the tunnel, when we had begun to move again, we suddenly stopped and the passengers were informed that there was another problem with the train in front of us. Thank You, Jesus! 😀
So I finally get off the train and as I’m walking towards the exit, someone comes up behind me and grabs my shoulders. I gasp and turn around to see Adrien wearing a mischievous smile on his face. We walk to church together and brace the bitter cold that bites at our cheeks and cracks the skin on our hands and lips. The wind was what made it really unbearable. I don’t care what city people think about people from upstate being immune to cold weather; I was freezing!
Sam was talking about the Beatitudes in Sunday school, and he pointed something out that I had never caught. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5) begin by referring to how you will be blessed through your internal relationship with God, and then they transition into referring how you will be blessed through your external relationships with others. God first, then others. Sound familiar? Yes, Matthew chapter 22, verses 37 through 39 says, “And he (Jesus) said to them (Pharisees), “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (ESV) The Beatitudes are formatted after the first and second greatest commandments before Jesus reveals what the commandments are. Cool! It’s amazing how things connect 🙂
During morning service Pastor talked about friendship, using the relationship between David and Jonathan as a model. It was a great reminder of how friendships should be, how things should work. I often use the example of Nathan and David to mold my friendships, or at least how I act as a friend. When David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Nathan came to David and confronted him. He told him exactly what the king needed to hear. That’s what I think defines a true friendship, not just apparently positive sentiment but also loving correction. Sometimes I need someone to tell me I’m wrong. That’s why God is such a great friend; He tells me I’m wrong in a loving way that grows me as a person and helps me represent Him in the world much more skillfully.
Between services, Jenny and I went to Dunkin’ Donuts for lunch because I’ve been craving their chicken salad sandwich for some reason. She offered to pay for me, which was insanely nice of her 🙂 We then headed back to church and, after I talked with Edward, Anita, Adham, and a number of other people, I sat down in the sanctuary with my sandwich and The Two Towers. As I ate, Darren came and started talking to me. I would just like to clarify: I don’t care what Adham or Edward or Sam say, Darren is just being a nice guy and he likes to talk to people; it’s just what he does. But I was trying to read and, frankly, just wanted to be alone, but I really didn’t want to be rude or indifferent, so I sat and listened nicely. That’s when Rebecca came up and asked if she could borrow me for a moment. Darren seemed confused, but consented to allowing me to exit. Rebecca and I walked a little ways away from him when she told me Maria had said to come and rescue me. She told me she needed an extra alto partner in choir practice. I went back to Darren and told him Rebecca needed me and that I was sorry for being so rude. I was kind of excited to sing in the choir though 🙂
I definitely enjoyed it! I’ve never sang alto before, but my mother, being a music teacher, made sure I knew how to read music by encouraging me to be in band and in choir and to perform in church etc., so I caught on fast. Also, it was easy to match Rebecca’s pitch. I really wish I was in choir.
We finished up with choir and then the second service began. We continued our study in 1 John, focusing on chapter 3. “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (v. 18) Wow. What a challenge. It’s easy to say “I love you,” but when it comes to actually loving people through your actions, that’s a completely different story. Love is sacrificial; it’s about going out of your way to demonstrate love to someone else, even if they don’t seem like they deserve it. It was much needed. That’s the best way for me to reach my classmates. All of us, being writing majors, are very familiar with words, their origins, their uses. But how many of us are familiar with sacrificial actions? I’m interested to see.
After the afternoon service, I asked Edward if he and everyone were going to Redeemer Presbyterian Church (ya know, the one where Tim Keller is :D) and he said yes and then asked if I was going. Well, tomorrow in World Literature we’re watching Groundhog Day, because we’re also turning in our term papers (which I’m insanely nervous about), so I figured I could stay out late considering I wouldn’t actually have to concentrate tomorrow in class. Besides, I really wanted to see what a service was like, since I had gone for the debate, which wasn’t like a regular service.
So, Edward and I start out and I realize that we’re the only two going. This doesn’t bother me at all, I was just surprised because last time a lot of us went. So we start journeying out to the train station and we meet up with Darren and one of the other gentlemen from church; they were headed towards Times Square to go soul-winning. Anyway, so we all head out towards Manhattan, eventually transferring to the 6, but then, when the 6 comes, it’s absolutely packed with people. In Japan, they have assigned ‘pushers’ who have the job of pushing people into the subways. Well, we were definitely in need of a pusher or two. Edward got on, but the doors began closing before I could get on. I almost got squished before just pulling myself out back onto the platform. He jumped back off. I felt embarrassed and kind of troublesome, even though he assured me it was fine.
While waiting for the train, we sat and talked about The Lord of the Rings and about God. The train came and we were on it when it left. Edward asked me if I was hungry and I realized that I was. Once we got off the train we headed towards a soup and sandwich place called Hale and Hearty. When we entered the little restaurant, warmth and comforting smells greeted us. Whenever I come into a restaurant in New York City, I usually ask the person I’m with to pick my food for me, just so I’ll always be trying something new. Edward picked Moroccan Chicken for me. He paid for my meal and for his, which was yet another blessing.
I went and grabbed us seats while he was getting the rest of our food. Now, normally, whenever I’m out with a guy, a friend or otherwise, I am the first to suggest we pray. But as Edward came back, I decided I would wait and see if he would suggest it before me. He sat down, and immediately asked if I wanted him to pray or if I wanted to pray. This occurrence has never happened before, so I sat there like a speechless idiot for a moment before telling him he could pray.
Part of what he had gotten for a meal was a hummus wrap. When he unwrapped the hummus wrap, he wanted to halve it so I could have some as well. He asked me if I could cut it.
Pssh, can I cut it?
I reached into my purse and pulled out my pocket knife and gave it to him. He laughed and cut the wrap, apparently pleasantly surprised. We then began to talk about survival and hunting shows. I mentioned the time when my cousin, Tyler, and I did a survival thing on our grandparents’ 15-acre property. We had built a lean-to, caught sunfish, and Tyler had called me a bush hippie because I wasn’t picky and ate anything to keep up my strength. The conversation between Edward and I carried out onto the street as we headed toward Hunter College, where the service took place. We talked about The Hatchet and Gary Paulsen.
Once we were inside the college and on the lower level of the auditorium, I became really excited about the service. The music was amazing, but the preaching was even more so. It was all about looking for Jesus and how we can find Him and the evidence of Him in our lives. One of the major themes, concerning the Bible, was “reading the right book the wrong way.” So, seeing the Bible as a literary masterpiece, but not realizing that it’s so much more than that; it’s so much more than just another good book.
After the service, we went and grabbed some tea and looked at the books in the display area of the college used for the church. We sat at one of the tables and talked about awesome God moments and about the Bible; we talked about different works of literature; especially classical, pre-classical, and Renaissance, all of the works used for my term paper, which we also talked about. While we were sitting there, my curious mind burst forth and I asked Edward about his testimony.
We then spent the next half an hour to an hour walking through Manhattan as Edward told me his story. It was amazing. God has worked some kind of miracle in his life, and he is completely aware of it. I love hearing people’s testimonies, their stories. For me, it’s like everyone is a living story; I want to know how people’s brains work, what their backgrounds are, what their relationship with God is like, how they see Him. When he finished, I was smiling, amazed at how God has worked in his life. Then he asked me about mine.
I’ve never been comfortable with telling guys my testimony, but I decided it was time to get over that fear, that Satan wasn’t going to keep me prisoner this way. And so I began. While I was talking, we took shelter in Grand Central Station to thaw out our hands and faces. We stood in that beautiful building, talking some more about everything. Once we were warm again, we entered back into the bitter cold and went to the Rockefeller park, which happens to have the ice-skating rink in it. Going through the park was a lot of fun. It’s weird, because back in the sticks parks are a jungle gym of sorts, a few swing sets, some shrubbery, either wood chips, grass, or pebbles, and small children. This park was completely different. There were shops and fountains and trees and an ice-skating rink for Pete’s sake, the atmosphere soaked with the glorious tunes of 50s music, all behind a beautiful historic library (I believe it was the New York Public Library, a place at which I will eventually spend an entire day). Yeah.
We left the park and went down into the train for the final time, headed home. We came out at Barclays Center and I told Edward I could walk from there. But when he asked how long of a walk it was, and I replied about thirty or forty minutes, he called his brother (whom I’d met earlier during church) to come and pick us up. While we were waiting, he convinced me to go into a CVS and buy chocolate with him. He bought Palmer chocolate, which, in my opinion, is the worst chocolate you could possibly purchase for yourself. I was picky and bought Russell Stover, one for me and one for Lin, who was probably working back at our dorm.
The ride back to my dorm was fun. Both Edward and his brother are good company 🙂 When I finally did return to my dorm (finally, because I gave horrible directions and we became lost once or twice), I realized just how much fun I’d had and how amazing God had been, how easy it was to see Him in everything.
Yeah, I know 🙂