In the old I Love Lucy show there is an episode where Lucy and Ricky move from the city to the country. At bedtime Lucy finds herself tossing and turning, unable to fall asleep—ironically because it’s too quiet. This reminds me of our current corona virus work-from-home/social distancing; it is now certainly quiet outside. Even though this may not be the way we envisioned slowing life down, nevertheless, I’m finding blessing in the quiet moments.
“Jane” examined me closely and then asked, “What if they only came to rob you and not because of your preaching … does it still count?” Whaaaat? It’s amazing what comes out of people when someone is suffering!
Jane said this to me at our kids’ school in the Central Asian city where we were serving with different Christian agencies. I was still suffering from the injuries I had sustained when we were attacked in our home a year earlier. She was trying to do the reward calculus on my suffering. Was I suffering for Jesus? Or was I just suffering? In her mind, there was a big difference and it seemed important to her to nail down which was which. Kind of appalling, right?
This was not what I had signed up for. I had moved to Central Asia to change the world, not to clean and cook and wash dishes! If I had to be in this hard place I wanted to make a difference, do something significant for a change. I secretly wished I could lead somebody else’s life!
When I was brand new in my faith, I met an older woman named Margaret. Margaret’s face always seemed to be lit up with the love of God. The light of the resurrection, new life, and hope came glowing through her when she entered a room.
In my youthful naiveté, I assumed that since Margaret was such a joyful person, she must surely have a wonderful and easy life. Imagine my surprise when I learned that she was married to a confirmed alcoholic, a difficult man. I began to look more closely at her face and listen more closely to her words and I could see small signs of her suffering from time to time. I heard it in her prayers for her husband. I saw it in her compassion and activism on behalf of others who suffered. She wasn’t hiding her suffering.
The boat would turn onto the new tack, or course, as the passenger ducked under the boom that was swinging to the other side of the boat. The passenger would find a perch on the opposite side of the boat from the billowing sail and lean back to balance the boat. The sail would fill up with the wind and off we would go in the new direction. It was magical, like a dance on the water.
I’ve been thinking about those Wise Men this Advent. Their trip to Bethlehem was probably not looked upon as “wise” at the time.
It’s not as though they could call Delta Airlines and make reservations for a flight from, say, Samarkand to Jerusalem for December the 24th. This would have been a long and arduous trip. I’m imagining their conversations with their wives before they left,
“So, Melchior, where exactly are you going?” Melchior’s wife Ann-chior peers at him as she stirs their lentil stew in a pot on the fire.
“Heading toward Jerusalem, Honey. But I couldn’t say for certain where we’ll end up.” Melchior grabs pita bread and stuffs it into a pack.
“So you don’t have a destination to put into your Garmin?” Ann-chior puzzles.
“Actually, we are following a star,” Melchior mutters.
“A star. I should have known. It’s always stars with you.” She rolls her eyes.