A couple of months ago Christian, Hunter and I were coming back from Grenada. As we got on the interstate to come home in the distance I saw storm clouds. It was blue skies and sunshine where we were, but ahead it was very dark. I said, “I don’t know if we are going to have to go through those storms to get home or not… I think we do, but they might move along before we get there.” Hunter said, “That sounds like one of your blog thoughts.” I laughed when he said that, and asked him what he meant. He said, “That just sounds like something you’d blog about. You know, like even though there are storms ahead we will get home safe and sound.”
The truth is that I haven’t blogged in quite a while. Not because I haven’t had a few “blog thoughts,” but because I just haven’t been able to organize my thoughts well enough to write much since my heart attack in June. So, when Hunter gave me that idea… I tucked it away for another day when I felt like thinking about it a little more.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. It was one of my days off. Brandon called and asked me if I would like to meet him at the truck stop to eat lunch. I agreed. We ordered our lunch and visited with a couple we know while we awaited our order.
Once we began to eat, we noticed two couples come in that didn’t look like they were from anywhere around here. That’s one thing that I love about the truck stop. Being right there off the interstate, there’s no end to the interesting people that come through there hungry. It’s fun just to “people watch” there. Anyway, the four people looked at the food bar and kind of put their heads together – kind of like a football huddle. One of them peeked back at the bar and apparently reported back to the group what she observed. We could just hear enough to know that they were not speaking English, but we couldn’t hear well enough to get a clue as to what they were speaking. I looked at the bar and there really wasn’t anything very exotic on there… spaghetti… corn… okra… salad fixings… a few other things… all of it looked good and nothing looked like it necessitated a conference.
The visitors looked very happy when one of the waitresses offered them menus. They took them and sat down at a table next to ours. As they talked with each other, Brandon and I both realized it was French they were speaking. I took quite a bit of French in school and even took private lessons. In fact, I used to be able to interpret fairly well. I even read and understood “Le Petit Prince” all by myself.. however, that was long ago and far away. Nowadays, my brain can’t think as fast as my ears can hear. So, I had NO idea what all they were saying. We all exchanged smiles and nods.
The waitress returned and asked them what they wanted to drink. Brandon and I were immediately caught up in the game of charades going on across from us. More help from the kitchen was summoned to try to figure out the order, and even though we weren’t trying to be nosy, we really had gotten quite interested in solving the mystery of what they wanted to drink. Finally, Brandon figured it out… I’m not sure HOW he did… but he finally told the waitresses and cooks that he believed they wanted three sweet teas without ice and one glass of water. Ironically enough, Brandon did not study French in school other than as it pertains to fries… yet he was quite confident in his translation. The French and the kitchen staff all smiled and nodded and looked quite impressed with his skills as well. The cooks went back to the kitchen to cook and the waitress scurried off to get the three teas and the water. The French folks smiled at us, and we at them, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief that their thirsts would finally be quenched.
The waitress returned with the drinks. They all looked quite surprised, tasted their teas, and all began speaking fast again. The cooks were again called in to help. Brandon and I were again drawn into the gestures that were the only hope of figuring out what the problems were. The man with the water began to reach into his glass and take out pieces of ice and act like he was throwing them away. One of the cooks looked at us and asked what they wanted (like we knew). Well, “Monsieur” Brandon announced that the man obviously did NOT want ice in the water. One of the cooks took his glass and disappeared into the kitchen, next the waitress took the three tea glasses and whisked them to the kitchen. Soon they returned with what must have been tap water in glasses. The French would dip their fingers into the water and say something. We finally thought that maybe they wanted very cold water but without ice. The kitchen staff was looking more and more put out about the whole thing, but finally the French decided to make do with the water they had been brought, quieted down, and began to study the menu. The lady closest to us looked at us and smiled again. I asked where they were from and she said, “France” (but in that cool sounding Frenchy way they say France) I tried to relay to her that long ago, I might have been some help to them, but my French has pretty much gone the way of most of the algebra and chemistry I learned in school. She smiled. I smiled. I’m quite sure she had no idea of most of what I was saying, but I think she at least got the spirit of it.
As we were leaving, I stopped at the table and said, “Bonne chance” or “good luck.” They all smiled and laughed. I don’t know what brought them from France to Vaiden, Mississippi but they seemed like a nice enough bunch. I hope they had less trouble ordering their food than they did their drinks.
As I drove home a blog thought torpedoed my brain… as I drove further, it combined with Hunter’s blog thought suggestion. I thought about the citizenship of those Frenchmen we saw. Their citizenship is obviously in France. That is where their home is. They are just passing through Vaiden. More than likely they will eventually return home safe and sound.
I next thought of a quote attributed to Billy Graham, “My home is in heaven. I’m just traveling through this world.” I figure he got the idea from the Apostle Paul, “But our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippians 3:20 NIV.
As Christians we know that we do not belong on this earth. My goodness, the longer I live the more foreign I feel here. There is so much evil and hurting in this old world. I think that is why one of my favorite songs right now is “Even So Come”.
Again, I think about the French in the truck stop. They really were only passing through. Even though they probably knew no one would speak their language, they entered the truck stop and furthermore did their best to try to communicate their message. There were those of us who wanted so badly to help that we did our best to understand so that maybe we could help the others know what they were saying. There were yet others who went about their own business eating their lunch and wanting no part of the whole thing. Everybody was nice though. I wondered how long they might be visiting our country, and wondered how many times they will have the same scene play out in other restaurants and places they visit. Unless their next stop is Canada or maybe Louisiana, or unless they hire an interpreter they will have to repeat it over and over again throughout our country. They have to eat, and that will require them to communicate with others their wishes.
We are taught that the Gospel is “foolishness” to those who are perishing (For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18) This world that we are passing through is most offended by the power of Jesus. This world is confident in its own power. It cannot understand – or maybe more simply put it refuses to understand the simple Gospel message of the Lord Jesus Whom so many of us have trusted in for our salvation. Oftentimes when you try to speak of your faith to people who are not saved, they will agree with you and smile and nod. Not because they understand what you are saying, but because they don’t want to understand it. They really just want you to shut up. They don’t want to become a Christian because they think that it may interfere with their fun. Or they may smile and nod because they are thinking what a “foolish” thing it is in which you believe. Some will just act like you’re not even talking – and yet others will get put out with you and might stomp off or give you a piece of their mind. You may even run across those who “used to” understand, but think that they are so far from their previous understanding that they shouldn’t even try to understand now.
As Christians, it is our duty to be persistent in trying to communicate with a lost and dying world. Even when they don’t understand; even when they try to ignore us; yes, even when it seems totally and completely hopeless. We also should not neglect those who may have fallen away from the Lord.
Just as those visitors must eat, we Christians must feast on the Word of God and share the Gospel with those we come across over and over again. God will supply us the words to speak, we just have to be willing to allow Him to use us. On our journey through this world… on our way to Heaven… we may go through storms. We may sometimes feel that nobody understands us or cares for us. There will be times when all we want is to go home. We have to remember to press on, however. This life is but a vapor. When we trust in the Lord Jesus and His finished work at Calvary we can rest secure in the fact that we will spend eternity safe and sound in His presence.