Why is it that I seem to learn so much more on the train to and from LA than when I am actually doing ministry in LA? Perhaps I should turn this into a train blog. I could talk about the people I meet, the comfort rating of the chair I choose to sit in, The annual “moon the train day” (no joke people), changes in passenger atmosphere in relation to the most up-to-date terrorist bombings…etc. It just seems that this three hour each way trip brings some of the harshest and therefore most rewarding times of personal reflection.
In all fairness, this is the ride up to LA so who knows what lessons are in store. Perhaps tonight will be a double whammy. Who knows?
As I am writing this a cute (no, I am not too manly to use the word cute…but I am manly. Really I am) little boy with curly blond hair keeps waddling up to the junior-high kid sitting next to me gurgling, “luk at yooo!” and trying to staple him in the arm. Just thought I would let you share in the moment.
Anyways, I hate trains. I hate buses. And I especially hate airplanes. This may come to a surprise to some of you who know me and know my love for travel. Ok, my beef isn’t actually with the wonders of man-made transportation. The trouble is the people. More specifically me and how I interact to the people. Get me in front of the youth group or behind a pulpit or even in some strange land where demon possessed men and breast-feeding women are staring at me and I have no problem proclaiming the Gospel with boldness. But sit me in a cramped airplane or train seat next to a complete stranger and I start to feel like a three legged stray mutt that jumps and whimpers every time he hears a car engine. How do I start a conversation with this person? How do I begin to share the Gospel with them? Do I just blurt it out? Will this be the only or last opportunity my train companion will have to hear the Gospel? Does God only want me to share the Gospel when it is an obvious open door? Can I force it? How Calvinistic am I really? Shouldn’t I be spending this time in prayer and preparation for youth group anyways?
By the time I come to anything that even resembles a satisfactory answer to some of these questions either I have arrived at my destination or my fellow traveler has arrived at his. It’s like one of those movies where the hero has to race against time and make a bunch of hard decisions in order to find the bomb (can I write that on a train? I know I can’t say it.) and diffuse it before it goes off. Except this movie ends before he even finds it. What happens? Who knows? It just ends. Role credits. Disappointing movie eh? But if you’re like me you can’t get movies out of your head for a while after you’ve seen them. Same with the train. I think about those people that I could have and should have shared the Good News with long after they’re gone.
What are my motives for being so shy? Confused theology? Wrong view of what, where, and when “ministry” is? Fear of looking dumb? Plain old disobedience?
Perhaps I need to reach the point where I just stop questioning and do. At times even the quest for theological excellence (which I strive for and urge you to as well) can be perverted into an excuse to refrain from selflessly sharing the dually offensive and beautiful Message of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Thankfully there’s always the ride home.
By His grace, for His glory
By His grace, for His glory