Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Edge of a Precipice

You would think I would be all "Ireland this," and "Ireland that," and I dare say I'll get to that point . . . sometime back on the other side of the Atlantic. But for now, we're going to talk about other stuff.

Someday, when I'm ancient and long-ago menopaused, so that no one about whom I could possibly be alluding even remembers me, let alone thinks I'm talking about him, I'm going to write a book about the role of sexuality in evangelism. Of course, it might not make much of a book. I can tell you the conclusion right here: it doesn't help anything. At least until recently, any overt or covert heterosexual attraction between me and any guy I've ever tried to talk to about Jesus has not led either to dating or to conversion. I do wonder sometimes, though, if God allows that dynamic so that people who might never get prayed for otherwise, get someone praying for them for a while. (When I'm feeling less positive about this, I think cynically that God's purpose for my life is "bait.") At the very least, it paves the way for unexpected conversations.

Like, one time I was returning to London after a visit to the States, and there was this striking man on my flight. We caught each other's eye, and then, during a stop in Frankfurt (yes . . . I had to fly through Frankfurt to get to London), ended up conversing a little bit. He was Turkish, and a doctor. (Well, he might not have been a doctor, I suppose, but he said he was.) My relationship with Jesus is usually the first thing I tell attractive men about me. In this case, I think that information might have come right after telling him I had learnt to make kisir and borek a few weeks before. Turkish Doctor, trying to be tolerant, no doubt, did not try to argue with me about my Jesus-fanaticism, but he did hint something along the lines of people being like trees--how they grow and change and don't look the same when they're finished as they did when they've started.

I had just recently gone through the tolerance-challenging, grace-building upheaval of my life, and so I could agree with this, except that I would have said that that had only drawn me closer to Jesus instead of making me branch out farther. And after Turkish Doctor and I had got on our respective and divergent planes, it occurred to me that what I really could have said was that he was right about the tree, except that the thing is, it's still always a tree.

I was thinking about this a couple of weeks ago on a walk when I passed this tree. I pass it every time I walk in that direction, but I had never looked up at it before. This time I did, and it struck me just how astounding it was. It's enormous and beautiful and serene. I thought about how a tree's root system is supposed to be as extensive underground as its branch system is above-ground. I know something about this tree's root system already (see fifth photo down in this link). It has kind of "eaten" the rocks in the stone wall above which it grows, and I could imagine the rest of its roots extending back into the yard behind it. It is kind of awe-inspiring. Who knows what it's gripping, under the grass, under the rocks, under the road. It would need that, because like I said, it's a massive tree, and it's growing right on the edge of a mini-precipice. I don't know how big or how old it was when they dug out the land to make the road this tree is on, but it's still growing straight and strong and rooted.

I couldn't help wondering, though, what would happen if there were a really big storm. I suspect it has already weathered really big storms, and like the house on the rock, this tree is rooted in the rock and it's still standing. But the last few weeks I feel like I've been standing on the brink of a precipice, too. Maybe a bigger one than the one than the hop between yard and street. I feel like, thanks to God, I'm pretty well-rooted. But it's still scary on the edge like this. I have to trust in the Rock to hold me and not let the big winds blow me over.


Marty said...

Wow Jenn,

This is really quite powerful and an amazing story! Thanks for the post.

enlightened rogue said...

You should not be so quick to assume you'd be forgotten. It marginalizes both your own influence and the sincerity of the one to which you allude.Also, in defense of the 'big winds', it should be noted that the seed from which this tree sprung, was at one point cast by the wind, to settle here and take root...

Jenn said...

Thanks for reading, Marty.

Dear Mr. Rogue--I was making generalisations, but I suppose not everyone would forget. Thanks for that. And I take your point about the winds. You're right, of course. "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit..."

Seriously. Did you not think you'd get a quote? ;)

The Cubicle Reverend said...

And you'll probably forget about us when you make it big as a writer.

Scott R. Davis said...

that is great that you had talk with a turkish doctor. And he quoted to you about trees growing in the city and your book is trees in the pavement. Keep up the good work. maybe book tv someday or the local fairfield borders on tour.

With regards to the role of the attractiveness towards the opposite sex in evangelism, it at least gets the conversation started towards Jesus. May you have more of these opportunities as you "branch out" your impact for Him.

Jeff said...

I'm curious what the doctor meant.
Is his implication that Christianity is just a phase that people go through?
Is he operating from an assumption about Christianity that we all want to end up the same?

Jenn said...

Cube Rev--I doubt it.

Scott--yeah, I guess. I mean, I hope that helps . . .

Jeff--I think, from the context of the conversation (which admittedly I didn't really expand on), he was implying that maybe one day I would not be so staunch about my faith--that I would change my views about it. Whereas I feel that I will always be a Jesus-follower--but I can concede that the way I have followed Him in the past has changed a little in comparison to now, and I expect it will change again, as I continue to grow in relationship to Him.

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