Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Answering the Big Question

I’ve heard that roughly 75 trains travel noisily through our sleepy little town every day. That is 75 chances to get stopped while crossing the tracks on a daily basis, and on some days, it feels like I get stopped all 75 times.

Yesterday I got stopped by a train yet again. A very sloooooow train. Just as that train was finishing up, and I thought I’d be able to scurry over the tracks (I was, after all, only the third car in line), another even sloooooooower train came along.

I was stuck.

I put my car into Park (that’s the P on the Prindle—those letters next to your gear shiftythingamabobby?—when Kate was little she called it the Prindle for, you know, PRNDL! Isn’t she so cute? *Ahem, back to my story*), and there I sat, flipping around the stations on the radio with nothing else to do.

I get tired of music sometimes, and one of the stations offered a guy who was preaching, so I thought I’d listen for a minute while I waited. He started out his sermon by telling a story of a flight he took from Hong Kong to Beijing, China. What he thought was going to be a boring, two-hour flight during which he would probably read because he thought he wouldn’t be able to communicate in Chinese with the person next to him, turned out to be a fascinating discussion.

He described his seatmate: a young Chinese woman, very well dressed, with a British accent. He was surprised, needless to say, but quickly found out that she was one of the lucky few—the 1% of Chinese children who show promise and are allowed to receive a higher education. This woman had been educated in London and now worked for a multi-million dollar international firm.

She then asked what he did, so he had the opportunity to tell her that he was a pastor. After they got acquainted for a few minutes, she looked at him with all sincerity, telling him that she meant no offense whatsoever, but why did he believe that the God he served was the one true God? And, also, why isn’t his (the preacher’s) God just equal to other gods like Buddha or Mohammed?


At this point, I didn’t want the train to go past and allow me to drive on. I just wanted to sit where I was and listen to this guy’s answer. (Thankfully (?) the train was one of those reeeeaaaallly slow ones, so I didn’t have to worry.)

As I listened to the pastor make his point, I started to wonder: am I prepared to give an answer to people who ask the “big” questions? Here’s this woman, raised in a completely God-less society, told her entire life that there is no God, asking what if? . . . . And he has just a few short minutes to tell her why he believes what he believes.

I found myself riveted to the sermon, wondering what the pastor’s answer would be. I mean, I’ve been attending church for a pretty long time now, and I think I know what my answer would be, but in that situation I would probably mumble and bumble my way through. My nerves would get the best of me, and I would find myself muted, unable to deliver.

My big moment for God would come to an end before it even started.

And I kept wondering: how would I do in that situation? What would I say?

I had this terrible feeling that I would let God down.

Words of Scripture flooded my mind: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (I Peter 3:15) This is, for me, one of those really convicting passages of Scripture. Sure, God, one day I’ll have that all worked out and I’ll be ready.

But you know what? Today is that day. Today I need to be prepared. The verse doesn’t say “someday get your act together so you can tell others.” It says to ALWAYS be prepared.

As I listened to the pastor’s answer to the Chinese woman’s question, I felt slightly relieved. What I had thought in my mind that I would say was pretty much what he said. But it didn’t make me feel a whole lot better because I kept wondering . . . would I be ready for the big questions?

I’m not going to tell you his answer just yet. We’ll talk some more about it in a week or so.

Until then, here’s what I want to know: If you are a Christian, how would you answer the Chinese woman who sincerely wants to know why our God is true? And if you are not a Christian, have you ever asked that question yourself?



  1. That is when I am glad for the Holy Spirit who can help me out :).

  2. I just flew to London in June beside a man from England who had never heard the gospel. Never heard John 3:16, never heard of grace, not works, etc. "Aren't all religions just as good?" he asked. "It's all about karma, but there has to be a god." We talked at length because a) our row was the only one that did not have working TVs and b) we couldn't sleep. So while everyone else slept, we talked, and he pondered. At one point, he asked me if I had a Bible: "yes." "Is it with you, in your bag there?": "yes" -- so I pulled it out and asked if I could read him something. I don't think he could read well. He agreed, I was praying throughout about what to say/read; my Bible fell open to Isaiah 53, which I read to him. We talked of many things, but yes, those verses you shared are on my mind (being ready to give an account) -- and I've been trying to be more deliberate about sharing my faith at every opportunity.

    I can't wait to hear the answer this man gave on the radio!

  3. OK, Anna did not leave that last comment; I did! :-) I just forgot to sign into my account! oops...

  4. I've missed you!! And you haven't even gone anywhere. I got up this morning and thought "I MUST go see Shelly today." And as usual, your blog makes me think, makes me smile and reminds me why I like you so much. Great post.
    And the PRNDL - that's priceless.
    Have a great weekend. I feel ready for the day now. : )