Saturday, March 27, 2010

Old Friends

One Wednesday evening not long ago, I was watching television when the doorbell rang. I turned off the TV and made my way to the front door. I opened it, and there stood a middle-aged man with a half grin on his face. He said nothing.

“May I help you?” I asked him, more than a little suspicious.

After a slight pause, he told me his name.

Recognition overtook suspicion. He was an old friend from our days in Illinois—going back to college, in fact—someone I hadn’t talked to in years. He was in town on business and decided to look us up.

“Doug,” I called to my husband. “Look who’s here!

Our friend said, “My wife and I always like it when people drop by, so I figured you’d like it, too.”

To be truthful, I was self-conscious about the papers spread across the coffee table and the blanket thrown a little too casually across the couch. But our friend didn’t care. So I tried very hard not to care with him.

I introduced our children—teenagers now. Then we three middle-aged friends sat and caught up with one another.

We reminisced a bit, us remembering his children as pre-schoolers running through the halls of their old house. But now he was showing us wedding pictures of those same children, cute little girls grown into beautiful brides.

Our friend was open and honest with us, recounting business failures, children who didn’t believe in God anymore . . . We brought him up-to-date on us, too, though we had no real adventures to report.

“This is so great,” he said, “sitting here looking at the two of you.”

When he left to return to his hotel room an hour or so later, I was glad he’d gone to the effort to look us up, drive through an unfamiliar town, and ring our doorbell. I’ll remember his visit next time I consider calling up an old friend. Instead of assuming he or she won’t want to hear from me, I’ll assume my friend will enjoy hearing from me as much as Doug and I enjoyed visiting with our old friend.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Matter of Life and Death

When my daughter Kate asked about my day at work I told her, “It was pretty good, until the end of the day.”

I explained that I was in a meeting and someone told the story of a young woman in another country who had been killed by her father and brother because she decided to leave the family’s religion and follow Jesus. There are other details to the story that I can’t share publicly, details that brought the story close to home. Some mistakes had been made that compromised this woman’s safety, mistakes that I could have made as easily as anyone.

The thought of this young woman losing her life left me stunned and almost unable to concentrate on the rest of the meeting. I still feel a heaviness as I write this.

“We have it so easy here,” Kate said.

She’s right, of course. Believers in the United States are not usually tortured for following Jesus. Some people are shunned by their family. I was not. Some of us might experience teasing. I have, but just a little. Discrimination on the job? I’ve only worked for Christian organizations so I’ve never been passed over for a promotion because I was a Christian. I’ve had it easy. Maybe too easy.

What have I sacrificed for following Jesus? Virtually nothing. I’m asking myself some hard questions tonight. I don’t want this young woman’s life and death to pass by my consciousness without changing me somehow. If nothing else, I want to live more courageously. I want to be more bold in declaring that I am a follower of Jesus. It is a truth worth dying for. And a truth worth living for.