Sunday, January 2, 2011
On one of my first trips to a village deep in the bush, I was asked to visit an old, blind preacher. I agreed, of course, and had to scrunch way down to get in the doorway to his hut. His hut was empty except for him and a small, three-legged stool on which he was sitting. He could speak English, so we were able to talk about what it was like in the beginning of his ministry here. I also asked him why all the villages swept the dirt every day around every hut. His answer was simple and logical, "Clean dirt, see snake." Many children die of snakebite in the villages. He sent one of the villagers, on foot, to get me a soda. If I had known, I would have said I wasn't thirsty, but it wasn't long before a young boy showed up with a Coca-Cola that was about 90 degrees F. I've eaten a lot of strange foods in villages in Peru and Africa, but that hot coke was the hardest thing I've ever had to get down, but I did. As we got up to leave, he stood up, picked up his stool and insisted I take it. I couldn't refuse, but that's what I wanted to do. So, carrying his stool, his only possession, I left his hut, but forgot about the low door. I cracked my head open and split my scalp which began to bleed. It was hard not to, but I didn't cry out or give any evidence I had hurt myself. Not until we had walked the half-hour back to the car and got inside it did I scream. To have not taken the stool, turned down the hot coke, or let him know his door had hurt me, I would have insulted and humiliated him. It's nowhere near the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, but it helped me understand it. That blind old man, living alone, had taught me more than all of the professors in my seminary. It's what we do for others that really counts. As Christians, we really have no other option if we are to truly, "Love one another as I have loved you." Christ's commandment from the Gospel of John. Love takes many forms and the old blind pastor and I loved each other that day in our own ways. May we all learn to sacrifice and love each other as we were commanded.