Friday, February 19, 2016

Tuan's Story Of Crumbs

                He had been attending for a few weeks when I caught his arm as he was heading out the  
           front door, following the conclusion of our Sunday morning service and introduced myself.
           Later, we made an appointment to get together and get to know each other better.  It was
           during that meeting that I asked him what drew him to our church.  There were several ideas
           that he shared with me as to why he stayed at our church once he arrived, but the story of
           why he came that very first time was rather unique, and he has given me permission to
           share it.  So, this is Tuan's "story of crumbs"... :)
      The most difficult decisions you will ever make are the ones God has already made for you... 
     But how do we know that we are on the right path? For me, that means "following crumbs". God leaves all of us many crumbs so that we can stay the course.  But unlike the story of Hansel and Gretel, these crumbs do not get eaten by birds; they do come and go but it takes recognition, discernment and obedience to lead us back home, to Him.

     Several years back while “strolling” through life, I found myself lost. I had a good paying job, the bills were always paid on time, I took vacations often, and had strong relationships with a small group of friends that I could always count on. But I was empty inside.  I couldn’t really explain why I felt that way, but the void grew and quickly overwhelmed my life. I was falling apart. As it is when you lose control of something valuable, anxiety sets in.  I became desperate as the downward spiral dictated my emotions and also hindered me physically. 

     It finally dawned on me that while I spent a lot of time praying to God to help me get through what I could see was an impending onslaught of depression, I failed to listen or see. Simply put, I did not do my part.  That’s when I started to pick up the crumbs. 

     I was living in Seattle at the time and my commute to work was by way of bike on the Burke Gilman Trail.  On a commute home one day there was an older man riding in front me.  I don’t know what the circumstances were, but it appeared something he ran over had caused him to crash on the pavement.  A few of us stopped alongside him and quickly realized that 911 was in order as he was not responsive.  After that incident, whenever I saw debris on the trail that I felt was a potential hazard, I would stop and remove it. A simple crumb at the time.  I once found a wallet on the trail. I got to work, Googled the person using his driver’s license, and wallet and owner were quickly reunited, just another crumb that I had picked up.  I started to befriend a homeless man on the trail. I would see Duane regularly on my way to and from work pushing his shopping cart full of his belongings. And over time I finally decided to stop and say “hi”. I would offer him what I had in my backpack as far as food but soon offered more.  Shoes and clothing would eventually follow. Yet more crumbs on the trail.  My best friend was going through a bitter divorce.  I did my best to help by being there as a friend but it was obvious that he needed more.  I saw that as a crumb and followed it, and told him my story about crumbs.  He’s now a Christian and finding his own crumbs.   
     I even found crumbs at work.  Superficial conversations with my coworkers were mundane, but upon closer inspection, were really crumbs. The crumbs were telling me that stronger relationships could be built through what once was only water cooler jibber-jabber. So as the crumbs emerged, I availed of what was given and threw in a few crumbs of my own and the conversations soon took on new life, with greater meaning; allowing me to even talk about God, at work of all places!     
     Following the crumbs even led me to Budapest, Hungary.  This past summer while traveling through Europe, the crumbs gave me the opportunity to feed the onslaught of refugees fleeing from Syria and overwhelming the Hungarian city. 
     And most recently, a golden crumb as I like to call it.  After 3 years of looking for a church (yes, it was that hard for me to find one), the crumbs led me to Hillside!

     Now it seems I have an imaginary basket full of crumbs, and no matter where I look I will not be steered wrong as long as I follow the crumbs. It has become clear to me that the more crumbs I pick up, the better I feel about myself and the more hope I have each day.  More importantly by seeing and recognizing these crumbs I started to hear more and more from God.  What He told me was threefold:

      1)    Pick up the crumbs; stay on the path.

      2)    The crumbs will make you feel better, you in turn will talk about crumbs, making others feel better. They will look for their own crumbs.

      3)    The crumbs are from me and they are all around you, always.  We now have a relationship, consume at will and you will never be lost, hungry or full, but you will be satisfied.

     To sum this up, I believe that God provides the means and the opportunities to help us from veering astray, but we still have to help ourselves to completely stay on course.  We must take action to fully be receptive to what has been given in order to grow and have an unbreakable bond with God.

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