Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It was the same tough call as always.

I was sitting on the 68 bus heading to Downtown (when you've got worries, all the noise and the hurry seems to help, I know) (Downtown) to find somewhere to move to tomorrow, holding a bun that Mrs Korea had given me just before leaving. Should I eat it and the apple now, and have nothing left for later? Only one choice, to have faith, so down it went. After all, I'd be dropping into the hostel later, and there'd likely be some grub up for grabs on the Free Food shelf.

"It's a ghost town," eulogised Donald, looking despondently over at the completely empty shelf. Indeed, the Free Food shelf had looked pretty blank for quite a while after I'd first moved in last July. Then I'd decided to trust in God to provide and it had become abundant. Since I'd left it had returned to its original condition. It's a good job that I was relying on God, and not just on some old shelf.

Just idly dropping back into the hostel is not as easy as it sounds. Everyone who I recognise, I have to stop and talk to. Freakazoid, Michelle, Lionel, Leo, Tiger, Donald, Old Carlos, Sue - these are just some of the people who today I either spoke to or slightly hurried past. Inevitably I get asked the question "Are you coming back?" and today I had to admit that it rather looked that way.

"I'll see if Kate has any vacancies in housekeeping tomorrow," I answered.

"Kate has left." Leo replied.

What??? Apparently she walked out last Thursday. All of a sudden I found I really wished that I'd taken a photo of her.

Sue was perfectly accomodating though (no pun intended), promising "If you want to come back, we'll make a place for you." Michelle duly reserved a bed for me tomorrow night, should I need it.

I slouched around the noticeboard looking at all the adverts for flatmates. They all looked fairly reasonable, but I just couldn't be bothered. I'd had an offer of a free place with friends, but I was still waiting to hear confirmation. There were so many options in my head, and I just didn't want to deal with any of them.

I didn't want to return to the hostel because it felt like such a step backwards. Life's a journey - you don't go back unless you give up on your destination. But on the other hand, maybe God wanted me there. Increasingly though I felt that God wanted me wherever whichever path I chose took me.

Having looked at the board for too long without phoning anyone, I decided I had better do something instead of nothing, and determined to walk over to Freeman's House - a Christian boarding house that Kyle had stayed at until his return to America last Christmas.

Trudging up Queen Street, I realised I had learnt 2 things about myself:

1. I cannot ever make a decision without any deciding factors. I always need a reason.
2. I couldn't recall the way to Freeman's House. It had been 6 months after all.

I sat on a bench and prayed.

The end of my year on the other side of the world was in sight. I was looking forward to going home, but I didn't want to stay there. The thing was that although I love New Zealand, I didn't want to carry on living like this. No job, no Work Permit, no home. Forever living in the present with no past that I could touch, and no evidence of my great promised future. Having faith is a great way to make God one's anchor, but if that faith only results in having to have more faith, then that faith hasn't really been delivered upon. If trust results in nothing, then logically one should not trust in that person any more. Where is the God who rattles on about how He always keeps His great promises for our future?
Numbers 11(MSG): 11Moses said to GOD, "Why are you treating me this way? What did I ever do to you to deserve this? Did I conceive them? Was I their mother? So why dump the responsibility of this people on me? 12Why tell me to carry them around like a nursing mother, carry them all the way to the land you promised to their ancestors? 13Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people who are whining to me, "Give us meat; we want meat.' 14I can't do this by myself--it's too much, all these people. 15If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favour and kill me. I've seen enough; I've had enough. Let me out of here."
And just 23 verses later we get:

3Now the man Moses was a quietly humble man, more so than
anyone living on Earth.
It sounds as those Moses' outburst was in fact a perfectly okay and right thing for him to do. Moses placed enough importance on his relationship with God to tell Him honestly how he felt. Anything less would have been less than honest. He was angry, but he wasn't trying to hurt God's feelings.

I've had many other upset prayers since coming here, but this one was different. Anger usually involves trying to inflict emotional hurt, (which is why I refuse to ever get angry with anyone) but not in this prayer. Just honest anger.

I guess I'm making a very subtle distinction here between anger and hurtful anger.

Resuming my search for Freeman's House, I tried to find the shop Party On as a marker, but I eventually gave up and decided to return to the hostel. Then I spotted a vaguely familiar road and tried it. Then I remembered the McDonald's' offices, and then another vaguely familiar corner.

Before I knew it I was on the other side of the motorway and there: Freeman's House - Auckland's Christian boarding house. It looked, as it always has done, just like an ordinary house. Was it still open? Had it closed after Kyle had left? Grimly I wondered just how life had brought me to the stage where I was prepared to knock on strangers' doors and ask if I could stay there.

A girl I'd passed earlier came up to me and, noticing my body language, asked if I was looking for Freeman's House. Her name was Danielle, and she was staying there. She invited me in.

It turned out that there was, unusually, a party just starting, with a few people who I knew, the obligatory stranger who turned out to have previously met me, and a huge spread of hot food on offer. Result!

What a shame it was a closing down party.

Later, after alot of food, music and silliness ("What's the worst conversation-stopper you can think of?") I was crossing town back to the bus stop again.

Moses' task hadn't been changed after his outburst, but God did do something to lighten his spirits.

Nothing had changed for me either - I still had only the hostel to definitely rely on tomorrow, and no tangible evidence of my future, yet as I approached an ATM on Karanghape Road to get my fare out, I certainly felt my spirits had been lifted.

Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city,
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty,
How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there,
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares,
So go dowwwntowwwn, things'll be great when you're,
Dowwwntowwwn - no finer place, for sure,
Dowwwntowwwn - everything's waiting for you.


3 comment(s):

At 8:38 am, Blogger Kurt said...

I remember that song well. When I was in 4th grade (10 years old), our class danced to that Petula Clark song in the school show. We did a "modern" dance (it was 1968, after all). That may have been the last time I felt comfortable dancing in public.
Awesome post. There are some things going on for you obviously and I hope you keep moving forward.

"Increasingly though I felt that God wanted me wherever whichever path I chose took me."
There are SO many jewels in this statement I fear I will overrun your blog! The part that jumps off the screen for me is "God wanted me..."
It is incredibly freeing to realize that. Even when we are disobedient, God wants us. Always. And if we choose something stupid as a course of action or plan, that does not affect His love.
Forever living in the present with no past that I could touch, and no evidence of my great promised future.
This is one of the great paradoxes of humanity. Our brain only functions in the past or the future; we struggle to be "in the moment," to borrow a New Age term. Father Richard Rohr discussed this during a Men's Retreat I attended in May. To be able to accomplish this state of being, he maintains that we need to shift into a different level of spiritual consciousness. This is perhaps what Christ was pointing us to when He spoke of the birds and flowers having no worries.
Chin up and head bowed, brother. Peace.

At 2:06 am, Blogger A. J. Chesswas said...

Great blog Steve. I came across your site for the first time tonight, and I can't believe it. I have often wondered what it would be like to live like Jesus and his apostles did, and you are showing us something of that. I'm going to post about you on my blog.

Are you connected with a church there in Auckland? I.e. a place you introduce Non-Christians to?

At 5:02 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

Hi Kurt,

As always, you're a mine of encouragement!

Down Town by Petula Clark (who was here in NZ last year) always makes me laugh because of that episode of Seinfeld that featured it so prominently.

I have always had a pretty good memory, and a patient anticipation of my probable future, which I extrapolate from my past and present. On that evidence right now I can perceive 2 possible futures for myself: one great (which is the one that will happen), and the other just awful. Sometimes I certainly wish that I could live in the present and be a bit more carefree, and that's certainly happened this year.


Thanks for your heatening words. I certainly don't claim to live as Jesus and his apostles did - I think they perhaps got up earlier and trusted God a bit more. However I must say that, since leaving home and coming here last July, I have found that re-reading Jesus' early ministry, as he went about by himself and then met the disciples, has certainly become more illuminated for me. And we're all trying to become like Him, aren't we?

Somewhere I think the Bible says that our suffering is so that we might understand some tiny part of Christ's. I find this encouraging, because if Satan's attacking me, then I must be doing something right.

BTW I loved your answer to your random question:

"What reason do you have to believe the earth is flat?
They said it was round then told me God was dead and my ancestors were monkeys."



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