to munich with a friend

It is late on Wednesday evening and I have transitioned from coffee to tea. Tonight, I am enjoying Turkish apple while the girls finish their homework. There is a clarinet practice session – level 1 -happening in the background accompanied by the soft hum of the dishwasher. Another line of dirty supper plates are waiting on the counter since this afternoon’s Bible study dishes have created a backlog. My day was a lot busier than I had anticipated. How was yours?

I missed this morning’s deadline a bit – when I mentioned tomorrow morning in the Engage article, I meant morning in Europe. The day flew away and I found myself hanging on just like you might do with a kite in a high wind. I am so glad that you stopped by anyway.

In the Engage article, I mentioned the Missio Dei (the mission of God). Michael Frost is a missiologist from Australia who says that above all other activity focused on humanity, God’s primary intent is mission. He coined the phrase, ‘God is a missioning God’ – a God whose activity is focused on the recovery and redemption of his creation.

I agree with Frost. I think that when you read this beautiful story that God has authored for us, when you look at it as a whole, the driving theme is God’s amazing endeavor to bring us into relationship with him. God cares that much.

Now, that statement begins to influence every other nuance of how I live out my day. It determines how I spend my time, how I interpret the ‘chance’ meetings I encounter through my day, how I choose who to spend my free time with and how I interact with my family.

On the first leg of the train home from Frankfurt Saturday night, we settled into our seats for a 4 hour ride to Munich. An older, Korean couple boarded right after us and sat down by the door. I was watching when a young, German girl struggled to wrestle a gigantic suitcase and 3 bags onto the train. She still had the entirety of the aisle to maneuver them and she was exhausted but before she could begin, the man jumped up and offered to help. One by one, he drug the heavy bags to the storage bin. Then, he and his wife took the seats across the aisle from us and with a sheepish smile, he looked at me and said, ‘she reminds me of my daughter.’ I looked from this very Asian looking man dressed in a suit and tie at 8:00 in the evening to the very German girl with pixie cut burgundy hair, a pierced lip, and studded jeans and wondered about the similarity. I smiled and settled into the rhythm of the train.

My eyes wandered to the woman with him. There was something about her face that simply brought pleasure to my eyes. Soon, I saw her slipping feet out of tan boots and wiggling toes as she stretched them across the aisle into her husband’s lap. A look of sheer joy crossed her face as he began a deep foot massage. I felt her pleasure so deeply that my weary toes began to wiggle too. Rather shyly he looked over and said to me in hesitant English, ‘My wife just arrived from Korea and she has jet lag.’

Over the next 4 hours, we exchanged little smiles, little comments, little pieces of information and chocolate and then, at journey’s end, he simply got up and began to move the German girl’s luggage back to the door. Our train stopped and we all got off in Munich and with a bow to each other, parted ways as snow softly fell.

That is the end of the story except for the fact that the Asian couple has stayed in my mind all week. There was something about them that reflected an image beyond their own. When God looks at me, when he looks at you, I think he must get a little sheepish smile and say, ‘she reminds me of my son’ – it is the skin, it is the heavy baggage of humanness on an often exhausting journey. And, before we even have a chance to ask for help, he is already there, picking up the load and clearing our path.

Well, my tea is cold, the house is quiet, and the girls are breathing deep sleep-filled breaths. It is your turn. What do you think about this missioning God?

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