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Saturday, 14 January 2017

A Heart-Touching Story

Going back to an unspecified number of years, there was a medical student from a poor background who was struggling financially, and therefore had to knock on doors to sell merchandise in order to keep up with his college payments. One day, as he was walking along the street feeling hungry, with the last dollar bill in his pocket and unable to afford a restaurant meal, he decided to knock on the door of a house with a hope that whoever lives within may be kind enough to hand out some food.

So as he knocked, and the door was answered by a young woman, he spontaneously asked if she could spare a drink, probably with a realisation that asking for food was perhaps a little over the top. She went back inside and then returned to her front door holding a tall glass of milk.

"How much do I owe you for this?" asked the grateful student.

"Nothing," was her answer. "It doesn't cost anything to be a decent human being."

Some years later, at a hospital ward, this surgeon arrived to discuss a procedure to one of his patients who was in a critical, life-threatening condition. He recognised the patient as the kind-hearted woman who was so generous to him during his student days, and then had her wheeled into the theatre on a gurney to proceed with the operation. Some weeks afterwards, she received her bill. On it, it read:

"Paid in full with a glass of milk."

This story, which appeared in Facebook and which I then shared, reminds me of a song by Rolf Harris which was released in 1980. Its lyrics were about how two boys, each were playing on his own wooden horse, when one of the toys broke, leaving its owner Joe distressed. Then the other boy Jack beckoned his friend to come and share his horse, as there was room for two and he can go just as fast with two riders. 

Years passed by and the War came so fast. During the heat of the battle, a horse dashes out onto the battlefield to arrive at a fellow soldier who was lying on the ground badly injured with his life slowly ebbing away, and urgently needed to be taken back to base. The rider recognised the casualty as the one who offered a ride on his toy horse so many years previously after his own one had broken, and asked:

"Did you think I would leave you dying when there's room on my horse for two? Climb up here Jack, I can go just as fast with two."

Although the first story is actually true while the second is fiction, both I have found heart moving perhaps even a tear rolling down my face, seeing such kindness in action - the concern for the other's welfare above our own as a result of agape love. Just as one of many maxims spoken by Jesus during his ministry:

And whosoever shall give to drink unto these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Matthew 10:42 AV.

He shall in no wise lose his reward. Maybe the promises Jesus makes here in this life are more true than many assume? But the best reward I can experience in helping someone in distress is the feeling of exuberance, as if freed from all the worries of this world and desiring to skip along the sidewalk like any happy child would. There are many things I come across which I find soul-stirring. One example is an elderly lady or gent struggling as he walks home from the shops or some errand, even with a help of his support stick. Seeing such people, in my opinion, puts to shame those owners of expensive fast cars who purposely rev up their engines and step harder on the accelerator whenever they see a bicycle. If the driver is a man, I tend to smile, pitying his microscopic genitals and resulting frustrations in the bedroom! If the sports car driver is female, they are usually young professionals in their attempt to send out a message that they have graduated at University and at present holding down a high-income profession. Since the female seldom step on the accelerator at the sight of a bicycle, I seldom smile, but woe betide me if I unintentionally stray into her lane. She'll make sure who is the boss.

Climbing the social ladder seldom impresses me, if such success impresses me at all - especially when showing abuse behind the wheel. But on the other hand, I certainly don't believe in the old English edict of "minding your place in Society." However, climbing from rags to riches can only be good if others benefit, even if it's only to hand out a glass of water. Another issue I tend to find soul moving is bereavement. Not so much as the death of a celebrity as, for example, the death of a wife or girlfriend. This image also came up on my Facebook wall and I saved it for easy access on my profile timeline:

I spent quite some time fixated on the image, and at the same time listening to a very beautiful and sad piece of instrumental on You-Tube: BrunuhVille Pirate Love Song - Black Heart, which is fully appropriate, as the music depicts the broken heart of a pirate who has lost his loved one. That's one of the marvels of the modern computer: in addition to Facebook which is already on the screen, I can click on to You-Tube, then click on to the video, and then re-click onto the Facebook image, and look deeply at it whilst the music is playing. It makes me think about my own sweet wife, and how thankful I am for her being here with me. Nevertheless, whenever we go out together, I have to push her in a wheelchair. This for me is a distressing sight - to see my nearest and dearest in such a situation when I clearly remember when she was not only fully mobile, but was able to sprint - she always outran me - jump, and dance, for the first twelve years of our marriage.

Yet her condition has spurred a greater faith in God. Through this experience I have discovered something about suffering, whichever form it takes, and the milk of human kindness which meets with it. What is it about love, the tender compassion shown by one to another, the grieving with someone who is grieving at the loss of his loved one? Or at least being aware of many around the world who are suffering one way or another, say from hunger, warfare, or certain diseases, but will never have the opportunity to meet them personally. I thank the Lord that there has always been a group of Christians who have dedicated themselves to helping out these victims of circumstance. And this is where my privilege of giving lies. If I can help from the distance, the opportunity is there. And nothing could be so exhilarating than to see a distressed child break into a smile and say "Thank you."

The wide, bovine eyes of a frightened child is certainly not far and few between. And I think of the thousands, yes millions who are born never to hear the true Gospel of salvation - simply because they were born in a Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu country. I was sharing this very matter with a student friend of mine at church. Astonished on how one can perish eternally just because he happen to have been born in the "wrong" country or continent, a matter of no fault of his own. I was stumped for an answer. And here in the so-called "Christian" Britain, children attend school where Darwinism is taught in lieu of Creationism, and will grow up never understanding the truth of what the Gospel really is, and simply pass it off as fables, fictional ideas of ignorant men of ancestry who didn't know any better. And even among true believers, there is that tendency to advocate "Theistic Evolution" to hardened unbelievers, so not to sound like a nerdy ponce in their belief in a literal six-day Creation.

As such, these forces which exist in the air do their hardest to keep the individual from the truth of God's love (Ephesians 6:12) seem to be quite successful in their endeavour. Very successful I should say. And so I was unnerved by an incident which took place at our church last week, which lies behind the inspiration for this post. Near the end of the service, the Elders thought it was wise to sing an old English patriotic hymn, I vow to thee, my country - something I thought to be a sore point considering being at present in the midst of the Brexit-Remain political controversy. However, our Elders dismissed the first verse out of hand which glorifies earthly military might for King and Country, to skip straight to the second verse which aims for the better country as depicted in Hebrews 11:13-16 - an eternal city prepared by God to be the permanent habitation of the faithful.

I turned to see a couple several rows behind me, looking very disappointed, a picture of sorrow. Then after the single verse of the hymn was finished, the wife began to "pray" aloud for the welfare of our Queen. I use speech marks here because her contribution sounded very much like a rebuke to the Elders for daring to dismiss verse one in such a way they did. When considering the short lives of many around the world, living in fear, starvation and illness, the Queen has never had it so good. Already in her nineties, she has outlived a great many, including my father. This English church woman praised the monarch for being "a devout Christian" who suffered nothing more than a cold over the Christmas period. And this female has revealed the true fear within the hearts of many here in the UK - that one day the Queen will die. Such a passing away bringing some Armageddon-like catastrophe not only to Britain, but to the whole Commonwealth, and maybe to other nations too. To be truthful, it has always been my opinion that throughout her entire reign, she has done an excellent job as monarch with a full, whole-hearted and unwavering commitment. But we cannot hide under the carpet. One day the Queen will die. That is certain. The only thing we don't know is when. God alone knows when she will be called home.

Then, after her death, the institution of the British monarchical system will not end for the UK, unless the people want it to be so, which I think, is very unlikely. Prince Charles is ready to claim the throne, and if he happen to be unlucky enough to kick the bucket whilst his mother is still alive, then there is her grandson Prince William. Indeed, as long as it's the will of the people, the British institution remains as firm as a rock.

It's this kind of hypocrisy which had dominance in the Church of England in centuries past which sprouted the likes of Richard Dawkins, Bertrand Russell and Charles Darwin, along with many other "Thought Bombs" who had an impact in shaping our national society to such a level of unbelief I see to this day. It is distressing. Bertrand Russell, in his book, Why I'm not a Christian, aims his guns mainly at the Church of England of his day. With one chapter titled Nice People, he gives a candid description of a typical wealthy female attendee, herself a lifelong spinster but a rather bossy Aunt to her relatives. Each Sunday there she is, at church, dressed in her Sunday Best, and having a respect for the rich and the noble, not to mention her devotion to the King, but also having disdain and strong dislike for the poorer, uneducated class, the pariahs and dregs of society. Such a person can be cruel and disrespectful even to her own house servants, but lavish in her own standing before the King, Country and God himself.

Most likely such an attitude, its existence also endorsed by classic novelist Charles Dickens, can be put down by their central soteriology of Arminianism - the Catholic stance of salvation being decided upon human choice rather than God's sovereign grace, and as such, salvation is looked upon as a lifelong probation rather than as the free gift given eternally to every believer. That is to say - Arminianism, first taught by Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius to counter the teachings of John Calvin in the 16th Century - insists that a believer can lose his salvation if his faith weakens, a condition every believer is seen as in potential danger of falling into, as well as a piling of unconfessed sins. The result of this line of thinking is to ensure that one's faith remains strong, along with efforts to remain holy and undefiled in the presence of God, really, out of fear of eternal punishment. The fruit of Arminianism includes the liability to lead the believer to become judgemental towards others who disagrees with him, together with a greater respect for social class, and an attitude of self righteousness. The aforementioned couple who "prayed" for the Queen are devoted Arminians.

Hence either the diminishing or even the absence of agape love. The milk of human kindness which motivated the householder to hand out a tall glass of milk to a hungry student. The kindness shown by one young boy to another when his toy horse broke. The tears running down the face of the bereaved as he stands at his girlfriend's grave. The sort of stuff which can cause me to shed a tear. Something so wonderful, so endearing, so awe-inspiring. The very thing churches everywhere, including ours, so desperately needs. To see the lifting up of a distressed child, her wide, tearful eyes narrowing as she breaks into a grateful smile, to witness someone come to Christ by faith as a result of seeing love at work. To see hope restored in those who had no hope. To see the real love of Jesus Christ shine out of our hearts.

And the test of real love? It is shown to those who are different. Having different opinions, being of lower social class, having a manual job, being less educated, arriving from a foreign land, unable to speak good English, of a different race, poorly or scruffily dressed, even physically deformed by disease, disabled. True love covers everyone who does not fit the mould, as well of those who does.

God loved all of them enough to send his Son to die for them all. With God there is no favouritism. It is an impossible realm to reach by self effort. Only the Spirit of Christ in us can bring us up to that level. Jesus promised that his Father is very willing to give the Holy Spirit to everyone who asks (Luke 11:11-13) - and no self reformation is needed before the asking for the Holy Spirit. Every human heart is evil, and it is to the unreformed evil heart where God enters in!


  1. Dear Frank,
    Praise God that He is no respecter of persons. His freely given gift of salvation is available to whosoever will come -- Jew or Greek, bond or free, rich or poor. May we model our lives on His agape love. Thanks as always for the excellent post. May God bless you and Alex.

  2. Isn't it amazing how often in the effort to counter one false teaching, people have adopted an equally false one, instead of simply accepting God's word? Calvinism and Arminianism both distort the scriptures and lead to ungodly behavior.

  3. I have to admit Frank, that I have seen exceptional kindness coming from both rich and poor people. My grandfather, who was Jewish, had various shops and houses which he rented out. However, he wore sandals, walked for miles, and wore a tie that fitted under his collar with an elastic band when meeting up with business men. Yet he gave lots of money to the homeless and allowed some of them to live in his rental homes free of charge until they got on their feet.