Sunday, January 26, 2014
It’s been a bit since I sat down at the computer to write on purpose. I have done some scribbling and some rambling, but they aren’t words for sharing, just for emoting.
I’m not sure where my serious words have gone. I apologize for having lost track of them. I know you are waiting to hear all about my marvelous Moscow adventures. But the words are winding elsewhere winging away on the winter wind.
I go from here to there in Moscow surrounded by millions of people. I am lost in a sea faces moving from one place in line to the next. Forced to walk the pace of those before and behind and around me. I am closer to them than to any other human being here, but without words. We move in syncopated silence.
I purposed to share that with you in a long short story so you can see through my eyes, but there seemed no reason for the writing.
Yesterday I sat down on purpose with a blank sheet of paper before me and started six time – SIX TIMES – to tell you something important. But nothing important wanted to be heard. Stumped, I closed the computer and made my way to the house of a great writer – Count Leo Tolstoy - hoping he had left some words for me. Like a slow-moving lava, the ideas began to surface.
But not enough to write about. And evening turned to morning and a new day dawned.
This morning, thanks to modern technology, I saw the home going service of a patriarch of Pentecost - Bishop Frank Tamel. In true Pentecostal fashion there was rejoicing and laughter and much, much music. Story after story was told of the influence of this man. Thousands of voices rose together in affirmation of the affect this life had had upon their lives.
There, in the middle of the Pentecostalisms, in the middle of the crowd thousands of miles and hours away the words began to form.
One of the sons of the deceased told the story of how one man talked to another man who was the father of the Bishop. Because the man and the father spoke, Bishop eventually gave his life to Jesus. One conversation caused a chain reaction shift that changed an entire city worth of lives.
Imagine that. One man talking to another man offering a simple sentence of hope.
It occurs to me that the real reason words exist is to communicate a message between persons. I have something to tell. You are listening to what I am saying. If my message is mundane, you will quickly lose interest and move on to another conversation elsewhere. When the words are hiding, it is because they think they have nothing to say.
As a Christian, as someone whose life has been changed by a message of grace and hope, my words carry an extra treasure. No conversation, no communication, no sharing of words is ever rudimentary, it is never useless.
With that in mind, I thought again of what I have to tell you.
Much is happening here in Moscow. It is easy to make an acquaintance in Moscow, but not so easy to make a friend. There is a definite distinction. Yet, I find the grace of God creates a strong bridge easily crossed regardless of language and culture.
I have mentioned before my classroom full of bright, curious minds. One of them is a Muslim girl who is always quick to raise her hand to pray “In Jesus Name!” She loves to read the Bible and to tell the stories she is learning. Another child has asked me to write down the simple prayers we pray in class so he can teach them to his family at home. Yet another comes to me frequently with Bible questions. Those conversations are eternally valuable and only time will tell how many lives are affected. I hope I don’t brush them off as incidental conversations, but see the weight they carry like the man-to-man conversation above.
My classroom is also a place where parents come to talk with me. Sometimes we talk about their children, sometimes we talk about them. Mothers in difficult situations have sat at my table as they tried to sort out what the Bible teaches, what does God expect of them. I find myself struggling for words of hope. I recall my own dark nights of the soul and dredge up the hopeful verses that shone brightly into my life.
This room is also a place of prayer. I pray there myself, often as a means to keep balance when the students’ personalities ignite one another to mischief. I pray there also with my colleague as we seek God’s help for problems bigger than our experience. The joined faith of those words brings courage to us as we listen to the other.
Yes, there is much to talk about in Moscow. It’s not that the words have escaped me. They have just found another way to be expressed. I hope that my words would have a lasting impact on many generations. I hope that my faith would create a chain reaction so explosive a city’s worth of people can be changed.
I have decided that words are treasures to be spent lavishly. If you feel you have run out of words, just wait a minute. They will come.