I'm about the most unconventional Christian you'll ever meet. I believe in God, and that his son Jesus died for our sins. After that, me and traditional Christians tend to part ways. I have found the majority (but not all of them) of Christians to be so zealous and close-minded in their faith that they refuse to accept the possibility that just maybe, there's something else out there. I'm here, as a Christian, to tell you there is.
The Bible doesn't recognize chi. I'm here to tell you that it's real. I know it's real because I have seen it, felt it, used it, and had it used against me. I have witnessed practitioners in San Francisco and Philadelphia use it as a way of life and a means of combat. I have wielded it myself, most recently in a sparring session in which I literally blasted my opponent across the floor. I believe all things come from God, and chi is no exception.
Tonight, I had a chance to minister to someone in the way I believe it should be done. Ironically, it was with a man I used to butt heads with a lot.
I hadn't seen him in weeks, and while I never completely trusted him, I was glad he was still alive. Considering out rocky history, I was surprised that he came to the office specifically to see me. I was cordial, friendly, but unsure; he was asking me all sorts of questions, such as when I was getting married (I'm not, for the record), what nationality my girlfriend was, and if I had any kids.
Yet, Something above told me that everything was on the level, so I was forthcoming. He was surprised that I only had two children by one woman. He knew where I lived and wondered how I dealt with the new, louder neighbors. I told him simply; the woman who lives above me was kind enough to come down to my apartment and ask if she was making too much noise.
He was in pain, and listening to him was a nice little reprieve from writing. I listen to this man, relatively diminutive but bearing the eyes of an ancient, war-weary giant, go on about recent events; he suffered an asthma attack and was hospitalized. While he was laid up, the housing authority evicted him. The housing authority was not making it easy on him to get his apartment back, even though he could verify everything. His family had suggested that he up and move to Florida.
He then goes on, and I'm wondering if he's going to sink right in front of me, and talks about how tired he is. So tired, he says. Just so tired of the trials and tribulations.
Anger and exhaustion breed desperation. I look at him, remembering how God tried to reach me when I was at this point. Obi-Wan, speaking to Yoda about Luke in Empire Strikes Back comes to mind; "Was I any different when you taught me?"
I tell him, and as I tell him, I realize that at thirty-one, I'm truly starting to understand.
It is the rewards we reap that make the trials and tribulations worth it. We endure the trials so we may greater appreciate our successes. God will deliver you from your troubles, as long as you hold tight to Him, I promise.
I said this to him, in various ways, until he looked as though he was about to cry. Having felt like I said my piece, I politely dismissed him so I could do a round. As he walked towards the elevator with his head down, I called his name. When he turned, I told him that I would keep him in my prayers. I promised—I gave my word, knowing that what I was betting on was a sure thing—that God would deliver him from his strife if he put his faith in Him.
He just stared at me for a minute. "What are you?" He asked.
"Christian," came the simple reply.
He gestured as though he knew that. "No, I mean, what are you, Baptist?"
I smirked. "Non-denominational."
He reacted incredulously. "What church do you attend?" He asked.
I don't think he knew how to react, but his elevator came, and as he stepped inside, he smiled. "Bless you." He said as he walked away. I headed in the opposite direction. "You too."
And as I walked down the hall to do my rounds, on this job I had maintained for nearly a year, I gave a quick point to the sky. I remembered the nights on the train, under the bridge, I remembered the endless streets and the violent eyes of thugs and killers looking for their next victim, I remembered the shelters, the pain when trying to breathe, the feeling of my arm on fire every time I threw a punch. I remembered the laughs, the crying, the hunger, the desperation, the anger, and finally, the forgiveness.
I remembered where I was at this moment.
"Thank you." I said skyward.
And I went on with my night.