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.