It was an odd day. Sunday School started with 4 of the kids telling us how they either shared or attempted to share their faith over the last week. We'd encouraged them before to be available to be used of God, but nothing ever became of it. Honestly, they tend to be (like most teenagers) somewhat self-centered. This week was different, though. They shared with brothers, strangers at the mall, and a lone girl at the lunch table at school. I think they've begun to see what a dark world it is, and they've started to see the people around them who are mired in that darkness.
For our part, the day should have consisted of church and a birthday party. One of the youth had a surprise birthday party at his home. Among the attendants was one extraordinarily out of place grad student studying cancer biology at a very prestigious university. By her own admission, she believes there is a God but she chooses not to study or explore beyond that basic belief. I think this is mostly out of a fear that she will find it to be incongruous with her scientific studies. She is very smart, but at the same time so sad. It is noble to want to cure cancer, but if the pursuit of that cure means that you will not consider the Creator, what have you gained?
She has chosen to ignore the question of God's plan for her because she cannot apply her scientific theory to decipher it. It was an interesting and lengthy, albeit very friendly, debate. She employed the typical evolution talking points and attempted to make broad, sweeping generalizations about people who believe in creation. It was a looong birthday party. Many times I looked over and saw Scott with his contemplative look upon his face, carefully choosing his words. I suspect that this was the first time she entered into a religious debate with someone who was knowledgeable and well-studied enough to not get flustered and give up. Scott has never been one to nod politely and then ask after the health of the family pets when a difficult topic comes up. There were some folks who knew her who would walk into the room, listen for a bit, chuckle, then give up on trying to follow the conversation and leave. As for me, I engaged in a pleasant side conversation with the young lady's father while we both listened to the debate. Our prayer for this girl is that she will at least seek to know the Father and that her intellect won't be an insurmountable stumbling block. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
We left the party and went out to buy a tree- a Christmas tree to be specific. Yes, I know it is late, but frankly, it is not very important to us and we have not had the time to go and purchase a tree. We wanted a live tree, and it is not something that I could easily go out and do without my strong husband there. First we went to Lowes. They had a few wreaths, but no tree. Next we went to Home Depot. I stayed in the car with the kids while Scott went in. There remained one decent-looking tree, and two that looked like they got in a fight with a woodchipper and lost. Scott also had to get a stand- he found one without a price and brought it over to the cash register in the little enclosed stand in the garden center. Hunched over and crying was a girl in a Home Depot apron. Scott asked if she was alright, and she said she was. He then asked if she was crying, but she insisted that she wasn't. His look of disbelief probably convicted her to come clean- she was crying after all. She went on to share how her mother left her family and has turned her back on God. She was very nice, and Scott felt so sad for her. She was struggling with how to deal with her family situation and her relationship with her mother in particular. She had some righteous anger. Scott was the only customer that had been there all evening buying the last sale-able Christmas tree. We believe this was another divine appointment. Scott was struck by her story of sitting in the church parking lot of the church her family used to go to wanting to go in but afraid of what people would say or think. She could not bring herself to go inside. She was very aware of the fact that her mother was turning her back on eternal things for temporary lust of the flesh. She spoke with a wisdom uncommon among 20 year olds, but that was gained as she witnessed the collapse of her parents' marriage. She did most of the talking, Scott was just there to listen and console. He talked about how God gives us free will, and as much as we'd like to make choices for our family members or change the choices they have made, we can't do that. He felt confident in saying that one day her mother will look at what she gave away and how she hurt her family and will grieve. Still, it is not fair that we grieve now for the poor exercising of their free will. Scott told her about how whenever we drive into Knoxville and we pass the car dealership where my dad works, he looks over and sees tears on my face. It is difficult for those who are abiding in Christ because we know what our loved ones are missing. We mourn for them now, while they continue on seemingly ignorant of the pain that they have caused to the people that they once professed to have loved.