faith hope love
These words were pasted on a white helmet hanging at the back of the bus driver’s seat. It was the first thing I noticed when I sat on one of those orange roomy “priority seats” right beside the luggage area. So diagonally, that helmet was in full view from where I’m at. It is the shortest bus ride I take in Taipei–5 minutes, 5 stops, but because the stretch is far out and there’s always no traffic, walking is not an option. Should I walk up the driver and pick up a chat? Didn’t I say I wanted to be a missionary? So why do I wish for some far off wasteland when the field can be right here in the nearly empty bus?
Time’s ticking and we’ve gone past two bus stops already. It’s one of those oft-encountered dilemma when the heart is ready to bounce but the butt is stuck on the seat. Maybe it’s not his and someone had left it along with the hanging umbrellas that passengers often forget when they alight. Maybe if I talk to him about it, he’ll give it to me? I need, no I want, a new helmet anyway. The one my former roommate left me had tiny crawling insects when I took it out of the upper cabinet. And I was really thinking of getting one so I can practice riding on a scooter and put my license to good use.
My motives are now compromised. I had regretted not braving up earlier on, but because I had stalled and looked for more reasons, the more I’m struggling. If I go there, it’s not going to be a holy pursuit because God weighs my heart and it’s now heavy with selfish desire. (Guilt) See, Jacqueline, you just read Proverbs 20 about searching out the spirit of man, about the king winnowing out evil with his eyes, about a child being judged whether his conduct is pure and right.* (Condemnation) God, forgive me. You saw my heart, I couldn’t hide it, I now confess, take it away, and make me do what you want me to do. I thought God would just honor my confessing heart and let me go of the mission He had at first called me to do. In my mind, I had rationalized that He is holy and since I had tainted His good and perfect will with my impure motives, He’s not giving me the helmet nor the privilege to speak His news to the bus driver. But seconds after the prayer, I found myself walking down the driver seat, as to what made me do it, beats me.
Me: I have a friend who has the same helmet and I was wondering if it’s yours? Oops, wrong wording!
Bus Driver: Yes, it’s mine. What’s your purpose for asking me this question? He’s obviously defensive and thought I had implied it’s not his.
Me: No, I just thought of asking because I actually have not seen helmet in person, just from a photo. I wasn’t lying, I had just seen it on facebook but I didn’t know why I had to use that as an into.
Bus Driver: What is your reason for asking me this question?
Now I’m stressed because the conversation is feeling awkward and I don’t even know what to say next.
Me: Where did you buy that helmet? It looks good.
Bus Driver: What’s your reason for asking me that? He had said the same question with the same defensive tone three times and it must be because how I started the conversation and the broken Chinese I manage to spill out which by this time getting more broken as my heart beats faster and my face turns redder.
Me: I’m just curious….Those three words are English words for 信心，盼望，愛. It’s in the Bible. I explained in Chinese. He leaned towards me and motioned to repeat what the words mean. And so I did, and every word is a struggle to say, not because of language, but moreso because I was losing faith in what I was doing. Fourth stop.
Bus Driver: I bought that in a store named xxx right by xxx. I didn’t care about that.
Me: So those three things are in the Bible and it says that love is the most important.
Bus Driver: I accept everything. Christianity, Buddhism, See that Buddha (pointing to the pasted picture above the front window), it’s all the same, just don’t do bad things.
I knew it’s not the right answer. I knew I have to speak up my God–the real God. But I just can’t utter any more words. I’m at my stop and the one other person went down ahead. I didn’t even know if I said God loves you when I alighted, or maybe I just said a meaningless thank you. So I went down the bus feeling worse than I started. I mulled on it on the way to Rachel’s for small group. And if there’s any consolation, a foreigner picked up a conversation with me on the train and I said “God bless you” when we parted ways.
That night, I learned a lesson on obedience. You follow and give God the consequences. It’s not about feeling good when you do something good. It’s about simply obeying what He has called me to do. It’s about not letting the enemy keep me from doing what’s right because I committed wrong. It’s about understanding God’s immediate forgiveness. It’s knowing that His good and perfect will comes with a chance to make mistakes, confess, and the will remains unchangeable, unbreakable.