Sick and Wired

I felt like I’d been dragged through a carwash of Brillo pads drenched in battery acid. Every part of my body ached, including the skin on my elbow where Tubba, a buddy of mine in fifth grade, said that humans have no feelings. A high fever, swollen throat, and itchy eyes all contributed to my misery.

My trip to Guam wasn’t supposed to be like this. For nine months I had been anticipating the opportunity to speak at camp meeting in this tropical paradise. But when the plane landed, all I wanted was to sleep until the Second Coming.

Nevertheless, since the local church covered all expenses, I managed to grease up the throat with drugs and eke out a sermon that evening for vespers.

The following day I was scheduled to preach four times. That task felt as likely as the Red Sox winning the World Series. Still, I smiled when Pastor Nambu arrived early to escort me to Guam Adventist Academy.

“You feeling any better this morning?” he asked.

“Ugh” I groaned. “I feel like I have sandpaper lodged in my throat.”

As we twisted up a mountain road, I rested my head against the window and closed my eyes. Suddenly we came around a corner and nearly crashed into a stranded motorist parked in the lane. Her old Ford Escort hissed like Old Faithful.

Pastor Nambu pulled over to offer the woman some help. When he stopped, I thought, We don’t have time for this. Let’s just get to camp meeting so I can preach my sermons. (Never mind that my sermons were all on the topic of how we are called to show the love of Jesus to people in need!) Let me get this day over with so I can go back to bed.

“Can we push your car off the road?” Pastor Nambu asked. “You’re on a blind corner, and I’m afraid you might get hit.”

“Sure,” she said, “but there isn’t much of a shoulder here.”

“I know, but you’re on a blind corner and I’m afraid someone might nail you.”

Reluctantly I helped them push the car to a safer spot. Just then another car stopped. I recognized the driver as an Adventist from the evening before.

“Can we give you a tow?” he asked.

“No,” the woman replied. “I called my husband, and he’s got a tow truck coming.”

“Are you sure? I got a chain with me. I know there’s a gas station about a half mile up the road.”

“No, thanks a million anyway.”

As I turned toward our car, the woman surprised me with a question. “Are all of you Seventh-day Adventists?”

“Yes!” I gleamed. “Are you an Adventist?”

“No,” she said. “But I can see you’re dressed like you’re going to church. And I’ve been to the Adventist Clinic and find the people there to be the nicest folk on the island. When you stopped to help, I reckoned you were from that clinic.”

As I turned to go, she said, “If I were to ever join a church, it would be yours, because Adventists are always helping people in need. God bless you!”

Jesus once said, “By this will all people know that you are genuine Seventh-day Adventist Christians that you love one another” (John 13:35, my paraphrase). Mother Teresa put it like this: “The wire is you and me; the current is God. We have the power to let the current pass through us, use us, and produce the Light of the world—Jesus” (as quoted in Becoming a Contagious Christian, pp. 76, 77).

So go and be a wire of Jesus’ love. How? The best way is not by preaching sermons. A better way is to live God’s love.

February 01, 2003 / Fresh Start
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Karl Haffner is senior pastor of the Walla Walla College Church and writes from College Place, Wash.