Come, Read the Bible with Me!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Set Yourself Ablaze at Christmas, or Anytime!

Once again, from long ago on the Bayly Blog, my favorite story:

Christmas, 1988, N Train

A young woman we know writes: It was the gilt-edged pages that gave him away. Most people who read the Bible on the subway have a small pocket edition and keep it to themselves. This young man looked as if he had come away with the family King James. Otherwise, he was ordinary-looking; gray jacket, plaid scarf, blue jeans, white sneakers, bristly brown hair; a gold wedding band. He waited until the N train had pulled out of the Queensboro Plaza station and was under the East River, and then he read aloud, "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus…" A groan went out from my fellow-passengers.

Talk about a captive audience. The train was too crowded for people to switch cars. And New Yorkers will put up with all sorts of things rather than give up their seats on the subway. I couldn’t help thinking that the young man was lucky there were no maniacs aboard and no piles of stones at hand. But no matter how you feel about being force-fed the gospel under the East River it holds up better than the Times or the Post or the subway ads for Dr. Zizmor, dermatologist. Anyway, no one moved. No one said, "Oh, shut up." No one wanted to be identified as an irreligious loner at Christmastime.

I found myself criticizing the young man’s intonation. He had a good strong voice, but the words rocked up and back unvaryingly: "…to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child." When he was done, and the shepherds had rejoiced, he changed--thank goodness--his rhythm. He started singing "Joy to the World." He sang two full verses of it, again in a good, strong voice. But no one joined in. I was tempted, partly because I felt sorry for him--singing in the face of so much hostility--and also because I’m a sucker for actual human voices raised in song, as opposed to canned carols such as one hears in Doubleday (pa-rum-pa-pum-pum) and in Barnes & Noble (gloh-o-o-o-o-oh-o-o-o-o-oh-o-o-o-o-oh-ria). But I was sitting next to a man rigid with pain and fury at having his subway meditations interrupted, and I felt sorry for him, too. Especially when the young man finished singing and began to preach, reminding us that we were all God’s creatures on the N train and that for each of us He had a plan. God’s creature next to me was probably thinking that he didn’t take the subway to fall in with God’s plan--he took the subway to get to Fifty-ninth and Lexington.

(“The Talk of the Town” in The New Yorker, Dec. 26, 1988.)

So go out and light yourself on fire! What have you got to lose?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

God, again, saved a baby!

On Thursday, December 2, Ginger and I were at Planned Parenthood to witness God doing what only God can do.

Sometimes we begin to think that our words, tone, mannerisms and techniques are essential for this work. I learned again with Pablo and Kim a week before Thanksgiving, as I hoped in my compelling speech and despaired in what seemed to be a lack of response; only to rejoice in God's great mercy and power to save.

I don't remember speaking in particular to this couple as they went in. Suddenly, though, they came out. It was too early for them to come out after an abortion. They didn't seem to be coming out for a smoke. As they came away from the door, the man put his arm all the way around the woman and snuggled her, almost protectively in his body. I thought he intended to protect her from us, because he looked at us, then walked through the gathering of guard and escorts. As they walked the length of the parking lot to their car, they walked with a peculiar spring in their step.

Ginger said that she thought he sneered at the escorts as he went by, while I thought he sneered at us. Ginger thought they changed their minds, while I was skeptical.

As they drove past us, we intended to try to get them to roll down their window, but it was already down. The man, grinning from ear to ear was hanging out the window as he came to a stop near us. I said, "You guys didn't..." He said, "We are not going to do it!" We gave him our pamphlet anyways, and said if they need anything, to give us a call, and they drove away!

We don't know how or why; we don't know their names or circumstances. God did what He does, and showed us His power and glory.

Pray that this couple will humble themselves before God, that they will seek Him, and that He will draw them to Himself, granting them repentance and faith.