I have never made a grown man cry before, at least not that I know of…at least not until tonight.
But as usual I won’t give you the climax right away. There were many other wonderful things that happened today 🙂
Today was my last day with Jenny and Rebecca. We were all rather tired from the past couple of days and the party the night before, but regardless we were animated and moving about. Church was really awesome today…my brain, however, was full.
Lately I’ve been thinking too hard. Everything anyone says makes me feel like I’m living in some kind of story, and my hands have been itching to write. I’ve been writing in my brain for now since I don’t have my notebook, but it suffices 🙂
Pastor talked more about fear, but today it was fear of our enemies, which are the world (not necessarily the people in it, but worldly desires), the flesh (our own stubbornness and unavoidable stupidity), and Satan. Pastor said something really interesting. While we are in a spiritual battle, and it begins the moment we become saved, there is no doubt that God will win.
When Jesus was living out His life on earth, there was no “Gee, I hope this whole death and resurrection thing works.” It wasn’t an experiment, it wasn’t a “well let’s try this” deal: victory was inevitable, it was just a matter of time. This is the same in today’s world. Yeah, Christian’s have enemies, but it doesn’t matter, because not only is God bigger than all of them, but He’s already beaten them 🙂 So while our enemies are real and our challenges are real, God’s reality is the one we need to embrace. Remember, we’re on the winning side. There’s no need to step over the line and pretend we’re losing when, because we’re soldiers in God’s army, we’re destined to win.
Between services, Rebecca, Grace, and I went to an Indian restaurant. I’ve never had Indian food and I’ve never been inside an Indian restaurant. When we entered into the restaurant, this is exactly what went through my head:
When I was high school (that feels so weird to say) and I would hang out (all the time) at my Grandma’s house and at my aunt Joan’s house, every once in a while the show Seinfeld would come on. Now, I’m not a regular Seinfeld watcher and I typically don’t watch shows like it, but I remembered this one episode. Across from Jerry’s apartment was this vacant space in the first floor of a building, but it was one of those spaces that no matter what kind of shop–jewelry store, fast food place, pet shop—moved in, it always went out of business. In the episode, this Indian man moved his restaurant into the space and, to encourage him, Jerry went to his restaurant. The experience was extremely awkward and the conclusion of the episode was rather dramatic, but what else would you expect?
This restaurant reminded me of the restaurant in that episode.
The three of us sat down and opened our menus. I had no idea what anything was. I saw this vegetarian dish called ka-chori. The description was “too difficult to describe but highly recommended!” Well, that was the most vague item on the menu, so I picked that.
Ka-chori is chic peas, potatoes, curry, and a few other things that I couldn’t identify, but it was one of the best savory dishes I’d tried since arriving in the City. Rebecca had ordered some kind of chicken, seasoned so that it was an odd ombré of red, orange, and yellow. When I tried a piece I was shocked to find that it didn’t taste like a package of skittles.
We finished our meal and headed back to church. After church, Rebecca and I went back to her house, getting ready to head to the Commune for coffee and apple pie. I had no homework left and coffee shouldn’t take us too long, I rationalized. But I was nowhere near prepared for what would happen.
At 6:00pm, the two of us headed to the Commune. Our hearts were broken when we discovered they had no apple pie left, but we decided to stay anyway. We ordered French press and warm chocolate cake (to die for). I let myself drink coffee as a treat and it was well-received. We talked mostly about books and the condition of today’s generation. Rebecca and I always have very insightful conversations with lots of snapping and eyebrow raising and “oh my goshes.” But hey, we’re girls 🙂
We know the waiter and the chef and most of the staff, and we were the only people in the restaurant. We talked to the waiter and he told us about his desire to try spoken word. I asked him if he was any good and he performed for us. He wasn’t too shabby, but the expletives, while embroidered by words of truth and meaning, were distracting. He returned a few moments later and he told us there was no bill, that our food was free 🙂
Rebecca and I finish talking and we go talk to Chris, the chef. As we stand there chatting, the waiter is closing down, and all I can think about is how I want to get back to my dorm so I can get a head start on the week’s load and unpack and talk to Bree about her weekend. I’m impatient. Rebecca said she was going to use the bathroom, but I ask if she can wait until we get back.
That’s when we get onto the subject of faith. Chris begins to explain that he’s been talking to pastors and friends and people in religion, but all they keep doing is sticking the Bible in his face. He’s craving Jesus, but he wants to know why we (Christians) follow Him…not from the Bible, but from our stories…he wants to hear our stories.
As he explains this to us, my impatience melts away and I suddenly realize how important the moment is, how time doesn’t matter at this point. And I’m ready.
“I want to know your story.”
He doesn’t ask us directly, but is speaking, in context, about Christians in general: what’s your story, and how did you get where you are now? Who is Jesus to you? Why is He so important? But Rebecca and I can tell that the question is simultaneously subtle and direct.
And there it is.
God: Hunter, he’s asking for a story, a testimony. You have one.
Me: What!? God, this is a forty-year-old man. I seriously doubt he’s going to be effected by MY nineteen-year-old testimony.
God: he’s looking for someone to testify for My love.
Me: but MY story is not what he needs.
God: trust Me. I know his heart.
I sighed internally, put my bag on the floor and, looking this man in the eye, said, “I am going to tell you my story.”
And I did. Rebecca (because I had asked her earlier to wait) goes to the bathroom while I told Chris about who I used to be, what I’d been searching for before God rescued me, what I had done, ending with why God was the only thing in life that I couldn’t live without.
God filled up so many holes leftover by a careless person. He turned my life upside down and showed me a world that existed on the opposite spectrum of where the ‘real world’ exists. God wakes me up in the morning and helps me sleep at night. God gives me peace when I would normally give up. God gives me understanding when my mind is clouded. God is life to me, and I don’t want anything more than I want Him.
When I finished, and looked at Chris again, he was crying. This grown man was crying. I knew in my heart he wouldn’t get saved; it wasn’t the right time. But I suddenly realized that I had been used by the master Gardener to plant one heck of a seed.
But I was in shock over seeing this man cry.
With tears in his eyes he thanked me, and after some more discussion and after Rebecca returned from the bathroom, we left. I wasn’t sure what had just happened, wasn’t sure how I felt about it. All I knew was that my spirit was tired, and that my heart was exhausted.
By the time we came back to the house, it was past 9:00pm, and I was exhausted. I decided I would burden Jenny and Rebecca one more night and leave early in the morning, which, looking back, was probably a very smart move.
I went into the bathroom when we returned and when I opened the door to come out, Jenny scared me and I screamed at the top of my lungs, causing Jenny and Rebecca to laugh. I told Jenny what happened, and we talked about it for a while after that. I made tea and we watched the movie Brother White. Once we’d finished that, Rebecca went to bed and Jenny and I watched I Am Second, the testimonies of Phil, Miss Kay, Jep, and Reed Robertson, and I cried.
Today was insane. I don’t even know what to say. God can use anything, if you’re willing to give it up to Him. So many of us just don’t want to get involved with what unsaved people need or want unless it’s the five-step soul winning, witness system. Chris put me in a different perspective: people don’t want you to yell the Bible at them. That, my friends, is called the Baseball Bat Method, and it rarely ever works and often has the opposite effect of what’s desired. People want to talk to people, humans; they want to see the brokenness.
I usually don’t tell people my story unless I feel led to, mostly because I’m afraid of what they’ll think of me and I don’t always know why they want to know or if they want to know. I usually leave that discernment up to God.
But I have to remember that it’s through the cracks in my jar of clay that God’s light is able to shine through. Witnessing, testifying, is not a system. Its about being sensitive to the Holy Spirit, being in touch with God’s word and knowing His will for mankind. Being with Jesus is not a religion: it is, regardless of cliches, a relationship.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” –2 Corinthians 4:7 ESV