Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bus Story

I ride the bus to and from work most every day. I find it relaxing, and one way to lesson my carbon footprint. Because I generally take the bus at the same time each day, my regular bus drivers recognize me and will, on occasion, strike up a conversation. In addition, I ride to the end of the line on my way home so the bus is often empty or nearly empty for the last few miles of the trip. That offers a prime opportunity for the driver to chat.

Today I had nodded off for a few minutes but as the bus stopped to let a passenger out, I woke up. The driver noticed and wanted to know if he could ask me a question. I said, “sure.” He knew from an earlier conversation that I was a professor. So he asked me what I teach. I told him “theology.” He said that was good because that was exactly the sort of question he had in mind.

He proceeded to tell me that a few days earlier, his 5 year old neighbor girl had died. He told me that he is not a big fan of death in general but he found the death of such a young child baffling. Why would God allow such a thing?

I told him that I really didn’t know; that if we knew everything there was to know about God, he wouldn’t be God but that it was tragic.

He said he agreed. He didn’t really know what to think about God in general, but he did think that if there was such a thing as God, we certainly wouldn’t be able to figure him out.

Then he told me this. He doesn’t go to church and neither does the family whose child had died. But anticipating a large crowd at the funeral, a nearby church offered to let the funeral home use the church for the funeral for no charge. The bus driver thought that was pretty nice. But that was not all. Apparently, someone in the church heard about the funeral and knew that the family could ill afford the expenses associated with it. This person anonymously donated the funds necessary to cover the funeral expenses – everything.

The driver finished the story by saying that he didn’t know much, but it sure seemed to him that Someone was behind that person’s donation.

I told him that although sometimes the church doesn’t behave very well, this was a great example of the church doing the work of God in the world. I explained that being part of the church is being part of a community that strives to serve God at least in part, by showing the love of God to those around them.

He agreed as we arrived at the end of the line. Never underestimate how closely the world it watching us and the power our actions have to bring someone into contact with the living God.

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:12

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