He cut me off mid sentence. Only four words into an eight word sentence, and I had already lost my audience’s attention. It happens often enough now that I’ve learned to pick my battles. I reclined a bit more onto the hotel bed and decided the morning was better spent with me, my phone, and my thoughts. If sharing is caring, then I decided not to have my ca|re cut in half. But then I got a subtle urge to try again. (This time I summarized instead of quoting directly, in the hopes of holding at least some of my friends’ attention.)
“SoDavidwantstobuild a temple for God. Nathan the prophet tells him that whateverhewantstodo, he should do because God is with him. Later that night, God tells Nathan to tellDavidnot to build a temple.” (I talk-mumbled quickly enough to blur at least five words together seamlessly, but the point was made.)
A Jamaican-accented cackle gave background to small comments on what I had read. And soon life, being true to itself, moved on.
The Welcome Table. AMEN Conference 2014.
A few hours placed themselves between my morning and my lunch and before I knew it a circle of good friends was enclosed about a table of good food. Every once in a while the wind would gently breeze away our reflective laughter (and small bits of our meal that was decidedly vegan). We had just spent hours at the Adventist Medical Evangelism Network (AMEN) Conference morning sessions, under the guidance of stalwart souls, determined to change the world. A dentist sitting at a nearby table caught wind of our presence, and decided to share his presence with us.
Coronado Beach, San Diego PC: VSJr.
He told stories of the his path to success. He walked us through his obstacles, guiding us down his own memory lane. All eyes and ears seemed to be held captive by his story––except mine. My eyes were held captive by the piece of cake that was disappearing all too quickly from my plate. My mind wandered. I had heard endless retellings of overcoming personal struggles, and for whatever reason, this time around I just wanted to eat pound cake without feeling obligated to oblige the gentleman’s story tellings. Then he caught my attention.
“You have to do something procedural to be useful on the mission field.” The words rang for a little with a bothersome tone. Multiple specialties in medicine were picked straight up and thrown straight under the proverbial bus. And unbeknownst to the guy speaking, a few of his young listener’s dreams were too.
I knew that because she said she wanted to cry. She was a friend who had dreams of becoming a missionary doctor who heard the man’s message that indirectly said her hopeful field of work would serve little purpose abroad (She wanted to be an Internist – a field that isn’t known for offering a vast array of procedures). I knew she wouldn’t cry, she was a lot tougher than her short stature let on, but the point was made. And that point made me understand why the “still, small voice” urged me to read a part of 2 Samuel 7’s mention of Nathan’s encounter with David aloud that morning. It was because we were going to meet a Nathan later that day.
Though wholly dedicated to prophetically presenting God to a broken world, Nathan was still human. He was still capable of making mistakes. And when he told David that God was okay with him building God a temple, he made a mistake that God later corrected him on – because God wanted David’s son to build His temple. When I saw my friend’s distress over her perceived life-calling being shut down, I realized that I had lunch with a modern-day Nathan. A well-meaning, God-fearing man who just may have gotten it wrong. So take a page out of the Old Testament’s book. In any setting, whether it be the pulpit or the pew, the dinner table or the dining hall, always run what someone says by the Big Man upstairs. Because at the end of the day (or at the end of a vegan meal), it’s His voice and His call, that you should follow.
Nighttime skyline. San Diego, CA PC: VSJr.