Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Part 1:

Today I needed to get across town to Excel Christian School Of Performing Arts in New Lynn to cheer one of my friends on at her practical singing exam.

Unfortunately I had organised my journey about as well as the BBC organises its TV schedules. No real concrete plan, so anything could happen at any time. Good luck. By the way here's some snooker.


So having set out in the rain without even checking the bus times, I found myself waiting at a bus stop on a motorway, late, with no idea whether I was on the right side of the road, let alone whether I was even on the right road in the first place. Even the bus stop itself had no information whatsoever on display. I, rather recklessly, just had this vague sort of hope that a bus would come and take me to where I was headed. God job David had lent me his umbrella that morning.

So I waited, and sure enough a bus quickly came along on the opposite side of the road. So just after I'd missed it I crossed over. Then, as surely as night must follow day, one came by back on the original side of the road, so I missed that too. I'd say that things weren't going as planned, except that of course I really had no plan. Yet as the rain continued to drive (no pun intended, inferred or even in existence) down, I had this deep conviction that God was somehow going to get me there, even though I couldn't see any evidence of it. I didn't even really know where I was, let alone in what direction I was going. And you can take that sentence as geographically and/or philosophically as you wish.

Which brings me to a question I ponder often:

Jesus had perfect faith in God's future. Let's be clear about this - Jesus would frequently come out with the most barking mad predictions regarding what was just about to happen.

Imagine if your best friend, someone who you considered sane enough to trust, suddenly came out with any of the following delusional statements:

30"Go to the village across from you. As soon as you enter, you'll find a colt tethered, one that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it. 31If anyone says anything, asks, "What are you doing?' say, "His Master needs him.'"

- Luke 19:30-31. MSG

27But so we don't upset them needlessly, go down to the lake, cast a hook, and pull in the first fish that bites. Open its mouth and you'll find a coin. Take it and give it to the tax men. It will be enough for both of us."

- Matthew 17:27 MSG

"Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' 15He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there."

- Mark 14:13-15 MSG

30"I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times."

- Mark 14:30 MSG (Some early manuscripts do not have twice.)

(getting madder...)

6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. 7"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam"

- John 9:6-7 MSG

And of course, my personal "I don't have any fear of upsetting anyone" favourite:

This girl isn't dead. She's sleeping."

- Matthew 9:24 MSG

Yes, thankyou Michael Palin.

So the question that fascinates me so is this:

Did Jesus know in advance that these things would happen, or did they happen because He said so in faith?

If the first is true, then He was simply repeating what He had heard from God. (I tend to shy away from the "He knew everything because He was God" reasoning as it flaws His example to us of how to live.)

If the second is true, then Jesus could just make up any old thing, speak/believe it in faith and it would happen.


"Yes, and welcome back to National Lottery Live. Mystic Meg's on holiday, so Jesus - what are the winning numbers that our machine will randomly select tonight?"

"Well Dale, if you head outside into the BBC corridor you'll pass a dalek who's been filming Doctor Who in the next studio. Follow the dalek into whatever office it enters, and there'll be 2 internal telephones in there. Keeping clear of its gun-stalk, put the two 5-digit extension numbers together in ascending order and those will be tonight's winning lottery numbers. And then a giant egg is going to engulf Torquay and Manchester."

"Ha ha, riiiiight. Well we've actually tricked you Jesus because it's Saturday and you're not allowed to do any work."

As I stood at the bus stop, I decided to go for making something up, speaking it and doing something about it in faith.

"Okay God," I shouted above the thundering motorway traffic, "I am going to cross back over this road and go back to that bus stop over there. When I get there I am going to count to 10. When I reach 10 a bus will arrive which will take me to where I am going, even if it isn't on their route."

Pretty clever huh? I'd shouted it out loud, built in something that I had to do in faith, and even avoided shying faithlessly away from asking for the impossible. Probably the most disturbing thing is that, on some level, I actually believed it.

So upon a gap in the traffic, I crossed. I headed back through the rain to the first deserted bus stop. As I arrived, I was disappointed to spot a guy approaching who was about to walk past. If I delayed my counting until he'd passed-by, I would have been being ashamed of my faith, so I started loudly counting, dismissing the hope that I'd be done by the time he reached me. I also deliberately looked away from the direction that the bus would approach from, so as to avoid hoping for it.

"One!"

"Two!"

"Three!"

"Four!"

"Five!"

"Six!"

"Seven!"

"Eight!"

"Nine!"

"Ten!"



More tomorrow.

posted by Steve @ 2:30 PM

2 comments:

At 2:52 AM, E said...

Oh man that is so mean!! What happened?!?!?!!!?! You've definately got me in suspense....

At 7:38 PM, Steve said...

As indeed you have me, "E"...:)

Part 2:

On ten, reaching in my pocket for my Auckland Discovery Pass, I turned around trying very hard to expect my bus to simultaneously pull-up.

At that exact instant, on the stroke of ten, the aforementioned passer-by arrived and sat wordlessly down.

There was no bus. Just this guy. Who wasn't a bus. I could tell he wasn't a bus because he was much smaller, wasn't demanding exact change and didn't appear to be carrying 15 people with him.

And he was quieter. There was a silence between us that I seemed to be contributing to.

Unable to ignore his exact timing (further proof of his non-bus-like credentials) I asked him if he knew how to get to New Lynn. He didn't. I asked him if I was going in the right direction. He didn't know that either. He suggested I phone Rideline and ask. I asked if he had a mobile. He didn't.

Terrific. This guy was as much help as I was.

"Why don't you ask at a petrol station?" he kept suggesting.

"Well I would, but there aren't any around here," I explained, looking around to confirm what I had already checked. I was at a bus stop on a motorway and there was no petrol station, or even a payphone, anywhere in sight.

"What about that Mobil?" he suggested, just as the entire said gas station and convenience store apparently materialised next to us. So by faithfully speaking those 4 words this guy had successfully out-Jesused me.

So I entered the Mobil station, lowered my umbrella and looked all around for a payphone.

None.

Falling into a pattern, I asked the shop-assistant a similar set of questions, to which he, with admirable respect for procedure, gave me pretty well the same answers. He didn't know anything about buses. He didn't know how to get to New Lynn. Why didn't I call Rideline?

"Do you know where there's a payphone around here?" I asked authoritatively.

"It's behind you."

It was all getting a bit pantomime by this stage. Twice now other people had managed to accurately speak into existence things that I had been convinced did not actually exist. I on the other hand had confidently declared "Ahhh - here's my bus now!" only to get a quiet guy who knew nothing.

This brings me to another theory I'm developing. I think sometimes God hides things from our minds. I think this is how we sometimes miss the blatantly obvious. We think we're making a decision, when in actual fact God is narrowing the choices we can see to the ones He's chosen to work with. And I think He may include some bad options in there to teach and test us with. I have no idea if this theory holds any water, but it would explain how so many people get jobs that they are clearly completely incapable of doing. Whilst we in Human Resources try to employ the person who will be best at the job, surely God knows that the more eternally important issue is to employ the one who will learn and grow in it.


"Thankyou for calling Maxx. Maxx is the new name for Rideline. New name - same service. We've spent tens of thousands of dollars changing the name from an instantly understandable one to one that could mean absolutely anything, and even better reads like a mis-spelt pet. Here's another sentence to delay your call from being answered for a little longer."

I shouldn't criticise. Whoever made that rather embarrassing decision clearly needs to learn.

Conversely, the callcentre lady I got put through to was obviously ready to move on - she was perfect. With all the precise instructions she gave me about where to go, which bus to get, what to look out for through the window, which direction to walk back in at the other end and so on, I felt like a combination of Anneka Rice and Neo.

Her instructions were spot-on, and although when I arrived at Excel I had missed my friend's performance, she was clearly pleased that I had come at all.

And that was really the point. Fantastic singing voice that she has, (she gave me a CD to play on my radio show tonight) I hadn't really been going to listen to her. I had been going to support and encourage her.

Ironically I'd received quite a bit of support and encouragement myself in just getting there.

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3 comment(s):

At 6:13 am, Blogger ntvs64sjhj said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:00 pm, Blogger Michael Redwine said...

Steve,
Thanks for your honest examination of the thoughts of Jesus.

Here is a thought to ponder...
... that Jesus lay down His own Godly powers when he came to this world as a babe, born into a human family, HE chose to not call on HIS own Godly powers, but lived subject to the same temptations, same frailties as we humans and HE overcame by the same power from heaven that is available to you and I. He call upon HIS HEAVENLY FATHER.

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2Peter 1:4

 
At 11:49 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

Cheers Mike.

Thankyou for putting into a nutshell what an example Jesus is to us, not just of how to live, but more, of how we should model our individual relationship with God.

Steve.

N.B. Mike runs a great daily devotional blog - click on his name above and check it out!

 

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