On the Way

Thank you for praying for the talk at the lady’s luncheon.  How did it go? It’s a long story.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day, just cool enough to enjoy a brisk 20 minute walk from our apartment to the train station—and I reviewed my notes on “The Gift of Hope” (I Peter 1:3) for the presentation in my head.  Climbing the steps to the train platform, though, it felt really crowded.   Now everyone here knows it’s going to be crowded during the morning commute time, but this felt really, really crowded.  Then I heard the PA announcement, “the train will be 8 or 9 minutes late.  We apologize for the great inconvenience we have caused you.”  Suicides on the train tracks are so common now, I don’t even get a pit in my stomach anymore.  But today I thought about my notes on Christmas and Hope, and felt a wave of great sadness for that person and their family pour into me.

A man nearby muttered “it’s not 8 or 9 minutes, it’s now been at least 10.” Yes, it was true, and yes, commuters here count minutes. People were pulling out cell phones to call or text to let people know they’d be late. I , too, wondered if I’d be able to make my connecting train and if I should text the luncheon MC.  But the train pulled up, I managed to board, and prayed that my back would be fine. Two men next to me seemed to brace themselves for my benefit and as the train swayed I didn’t feel the full impact of the crowd leaning with it.  It was “very crowded”.  

Now you need to know that in our family there’s something of an unwritten rule that you cannot come home and complain about a “crowded” train ride unless you felt five (5) other bodies pushing up against yours. I felt six (6), so knew I was good for some sympathy at the supper table when we would discuss our day.  The train  arrived at a small inconsequential stop and no one got off. But of course the people who were waiting there to go to the big destination stop were anxious to board, and they pushed their way on. The doors closed, and we sat going nowhere. Almost always at a train station the doors stay open until the train is ready to depart, but today they closed the doors; there was simply no more room. The doors closed, and we sat.  Did I mention that it was crowded? I was wishing they’d turn on the A/C, but of course, A/C season is over, no matter how hot.  I wanted to shuffle my feet but as I tried realized there was no room, and everyone knows it’s a dangerous thing to actually pick up a foot as another foot might move into the vacated space and you then find yourself balancing on one leg for the duration.  

Finally we started out again. When we reached the major transfer point, I expected many (including myself) to get off and a whole new group come on.  However when we pulled into the station, the platform was so crowded, that even though the doors opened it was almost impossible to get off.  People were pushing from behind saying they wanted off, but there was no place to go.  It was a slow process as  few at a time would navigate out the door through the crowd on the platform wanting to get on.  The stairs leading up to the platform had people lined up the entire way, and on around the corner.  I thought about the person who had caused all this confusion, a person who had lost hope, and wondered what words of hope might have made a difference. I thought about the 50 women who would be at the luncheon and wondered what struggles against hope they were battling.

In the end, I did make it there—just in time. The luncheon is now over.  I felt the words, along with my heart, pouring out — I can’t remember giving such an exhausting talk before.  Please pray for those who heard the Gospel for the very first time—and also for those who have heard before; we all need to hear it over and over and over again.

1PE 1:3  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

That is our radical hope, and in that hope I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

About Mark and Mary Esther Penner

Mark works as an adviser and resource to a Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project that plays a key role in the worldwide sign language Bible translation movement. Mary Esther founded a non-profit organization that partners with local communities and organizations to collect, refurbish and send wheelchairs throughout Asia.
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