Friday, November 18, 2005

The Pulpit in an Unexpected Place

If we believe that God inhabits all of Creation, interesting things can happen.

Now, I am naturally an introvert, but I mostly compensate in life by at least acting like I am extroverted. In short, I fake it. Extroverts are energized by being with people; I am energized only to a point. After that point, I get easily weary of people, and find that I am often energized by being either alone, or with a smaller group of people.

As so, I am not a great “talker to the person next to me on the plane” kind of guy. I am often not good at idle chatter with cab drivers, largely perhaps because of the tendency of these folks to drive with a faith and reckless abandon that I do not possess. I often find myself to occupied worrying about my own survival to strike up a conversation. Hard to talk when you are being pressed into the back seat by 2.5 times the force of gravity.

This morning’s cab ride back to the airport proved to be the exception, and I found God inhabiting his Creation in a refreshing way.
First, the speed was relatively calm. Secondly, the cab driver was a remarkable man. “Thoma” is a native of Ethiopia of (I would guess) about 32 years, who always dreamed of coming to America as a boy. About 11 years ago, Thoma was selected in an immigration lottery as an √©migr√© to the United States. He has worked in various jobs here over the past decade, and is now driving a cab. He is so happy to be here, he thinks this is a wonderful country.

Thoma mentioned to me that he was taking off two months in the near future to return to Ethiopia, to visit his wife and infant son – a son he has not yet met. And here is the best part. Three years ago, Thoma became a Christian, was married soon thereafter, in an arranged marriage to a woman in Ethiopia. (I would have loved to have had time to ask more questions about that!) Thoma is serious about his faith, is involved in an Ethiopian Evangelical church in Silver Springs, Maryland, and spends “two hours each day in God’s word”. Thoma has a smile that goes on for miles; his cab is filled with joy.

Here is the best part. Thoma told me that some day he might like to become a pastor or evangelist. He told me, “But for now, my cab is my pulpit. Each passenger that comes into my cab, I ask the Holy Spirit, ok…..what kind of person is this?…..where are they from?……what are they facing in their life? And God gives me the right thing to say.”

We have “cabs” too, each of us. But our cabs are our homes, offices, schools, factories, hospitals. Where ever we are called each day.

May all, every last one, of our own cabs be…..our pulpits.
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