Sunday, November 27, 2011
They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithinia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. (Acts 16:6-8)
I keep coming back to "The God Complex" from the most recent season of Doctor Who – the longer it simmers in my brain, the more I discover within its many layers and complexities. I decided to revisit the awful hotel one more time because of a recent Sunday School lesson where we studied the scripture passage above.
Throughout the episode, various characters find "their" hotel room and use whatever faith they have to overcome the fearful thing or situation contained within. Doing so eventually alerts the creature, who kills them after feeding on their faith. The situation is summed up by Joe the gambler, whose faith in luck has evidently helped him overcome his fear of ventriloquist dummies because he is now surrounded by an army of them. He tells the Doctor, "I've seen the light. I've lived a blasphemous life but he's forgiven my inconstancy and soon he shall feast."
"But you've been here for two days," replies the Doctor. "What is he waiting for?"
"We weren't ready. We were still raw."
"But now you're what…cooked?"
"If you like. Soon you will be, too. Be patient."
The message that we take away from both TV and the Bible is this: faith is important, but so is timing. Paul was eager to spread the gospel to Asia and Mysia and Bithinia, but God said no, not now. Not yet. In Sunday School, we speculated that perhaps God was waiting for the people there to be ready to receive the message before he sent someone to give it to them. Or perhaps the messengers themselves weren't yet ready. At any rate, we're led to believe that if someone had gone just then, the message wouldn't have taken hold and God's will wouldn't have been done.
God's timing is a great mystery, and sometimes waiting on him to give the "go" for something is exceedingly frustrating. Patience is not an easy thing, but it is necessary because rawness in this case is detrimental to the overall mission. Fortunately, though, if we have the patience and faith to wait for the right time, we are the ones who will feast on the abundant blessings God has in store for us.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
NCIS is not a sci fi show, but the last episode has been weighing on my mind so much that I have to write about it. "Engaged, part II" was the conclusion of a two-part story revolving around the search for a missing Marine, Lt. Gabriella Flores, who had been reported killed in an insurgent attack on a school the Marines were helping to build in Afghanistan. Gibbs and his team discover that she had in fact survived the attack, saving the lives of two orphaned girls in the process, but all three were subsequently captured by the insurgents. While they are investigating the incident, they learn that the insurgents' primary aim wasn't even to attack American troops – it was to destroy the school because its purpose was to educate girls. To top it off, not only was the school targeted, but the girls who attended it were attacked as well, just for taking advantage of an opportunity to better themselves.
This is one situation in the world that I have a very difficult time understanding. I cannot fathom living in a culture where some people have privilege and power while others are denied basic things like an education, based solely on what type of equipment they have between their legs. Are these men so insecure that they feel threatened by some girls just because they can read or write? Wow. I know that this is something that happens – it was not just pulled from some screenwriter's imagination – and it is a very scary thing to know that these monsters exist in the world. I just don't appreciate how blessed I am until I see a story like this. I am so grateful for the accident of birth that placed me here in the United States where I am free to pursue as much education as I want (I have a Masters degree) and accomplish whatever I want to. Yes, some people still tell others that they can't do something because they are girls, but by and large they cannot stop those girls from attempting it anyway. I am also grateful for organizations like Global Women (an organization that I talked about here) that seek to empower women in places where they are otherwise oppressed, and I'm grateful for the men and women who risk their lives in places like Afghanistan so that girls like the ones depicted in NCIS the other night get the chance to make their lives better.
Kudos to the production team of NCIS for bringing us two awesome episodes that not only showcased some of the best acting so far this season, but also brought attention to a despicable situation and made me, for one, really think and feel deeply for the plight of girls who are in that situation for real. And kudos to the writers who gave Lt. Flores such an eloquent response to everything that happened to her, including being kidnapped and tortured by one of the female insurgents that had been a working as a teacher at the school. The episode is concluded perfectly when Gibbs asks Flores what should happen to this teacher. She says, "She should watch those girls change the world in positive ways she never imagined."
"That a punishment?" asks Gibbs.
"That's a gift…. Punishment is knowing she could have done the same."
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?" And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:37-40)
Neil Gaiman first wrote Neverwhere as a screenplay for a BBC television mini-series before turning it into a novel (and I highly recommend it in either form). The story revolves around Richard, a typical English office worker, who is plunged into the strange world of "London Below" when, ignoring his fiancée's protests, he helps a battered and bloody girl who suddenly appears on the sidewalk in front of them. Her name is Door, and by taking her in, Richard becomes like her and the other residents of the city below, literally unseen by the denizens of "London Above."
When the original idea for Neverwhere was presented to Gaiman, the unseen ones were the homeless. Not wanting to romanticize life on the streets, however, he turned it into a fantasy world of earls, friars, swords, and great, fell beasts. Regardless of the characters' plight, though, the upshot of the story remains the same: when you reach out and help someone in need, you life will be changed, completely and irrevocably, and even when you are allowed to return to your safe and comfortable world, things will never be the same.
I have a cyber-friend who has made it her mission to help the otherwise unseen ones on the streets of southern California. She buys packages of socks and puts into each pair a pop-top can of Vienna sausages or something similar. She keeps these care packages in her car, and when she sees a homeless person as she's driving around, she hands food and comfort out of her window. Instead of ignoring them as I tend to do, she chooses to see them and she reports that this has changed her own outlook on life. What a testament to the power of sight – I pray that I may be able to start seeing instead of simply looking, and that I may not be afraid to rock my entire world.