SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 248: “Tomorrow Is Not Promised To Any Of Us”

I’m a little soft-hearted at the moment. Thoughts of my daughter race through my mind as I write the entry. I ask that you be patient in your reading, soon I will reveal the reasoning for the soft emotions I am feeling as I type. Emotions that reeling after leaving a doctor’s appointment in which I soothed the teary eyed fears of my injection fearing young girl.

We exit the medical complex and as my kid and I walk to get a gift shop treat, we encounter the welcoming exchange of Jonathan, who by courage is sharing his Christian beliefs with all who will greet eye line with him.

He is not threatening, defiantly void of aggression, and seemingly intent on knowing the community that passes by him.

Jonathan reaches out to us, and within minutes he, my daughter and I are engaged in a pleasant spiritual conversation.

“We are all called to evangelize, to love people enough to tell them the truth.” Jonathan encourages in proposing a very heavy question, “If you where on your way to hell… when would you want to be warned?” A very deep and self-reflective question, and one that brings pause to me in answering. And of course, there is only one obvious answer, “At that very moment.”

We begin a discussion of the nature of God, Repentance, Love, Forgiveness and the Role of Jesus Christ.

What is refreshing is that, even though Jonathan is powerfully convicted to his outreach, at no moment did he step on any one of my boundaries.

What I do experience is a two-way dialogue based on Jonathan’s reference of a very powerful teaching from Jesus, “To love your neighbors as you love yourselves.”

I did a little reading and found an applicable account of the premise.

From Luke (The New Testament): Chapter 10
A little background, Christ is talking to a group of educated men. Men, some of whom see Christ as a master teacher, as well as a threat to their power. During the discussion the following occurred.

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”

This story is so relevant in today’s world. Now I am not pointing any fingers in proclaiming any one faith in this post. But I will stand up in using Christ’s parable in referencing the actions of the lawyer, the Priest, the Levite and the Samaritan.

I’ll pose a question, which one of the four characters would we rather mirror in our life decisions? My hope is that we lean towards modeling the behavior of the Samaritan.

Trust me, I’m not saying that we should find ourselves in the midst of a mugging or in the depths of legal ease in questioning our own personal rights and wrongs. What I am saying is, in pondering the four characters in the story… who’s eyes are humble open to the world, and can we act similarly in our daily interactions with fellow-man.

Possibly, I could have run from Jonathan’s friendly hello and choose to wall my mind or profile the message of my blog. And yes, I could have made an argument for differing perspectives or try to manipulate Jonathan’s words for popularity, but what good would that do.

I openly express to Jonathan that our beliefs are 90% aligned. Would it have profited anyone for us to engage in a battle, even if we where 180% in differing spiritual outlooks? With that only conflict can be the resolve. And resolve that is not.

Jonathan is a good man, who is working with all his faith and might to proclaim a message that is close to his heart… Is that wrong?

He asks me, “Who is the most loved man of all time?”

Followed by, “Who is the most hated man of all time?”

In both the answer is universal, “Jesus Christ.”

Leaves us to consider a self-test, “Do we love, or do we hate?

Jonathan wears a logo on his shirt,”

He give’s me a business card with a link, “If you do anything, you have to check it out… It will change your life.”

And even though I promise to link it to my blog, I’ll admit, initially I was a touch wary as to what I was about to post. Yet in respect to the integrity of Jonathan, I screen the documentary.

Jonathan is right. Here is where the welling up of my eyes in thinking of my daughter enters my story, and that, linked with my Jewish heritage, chokes me up.

“180” compares the genocide of Hitler to that of abortion. I know a very hot comparison, and a bold approach in linking the murder of millions of innocent people to that of the pro-choice debate. But in the 180 Movie, a possible solution is promoted, that of adoption.

Through a set of aggressive questions and historical explorations the documentary blends archived footage to the interviews of a variety of modern day citizens. And in doing so, it examines the worth of a life and the question of when does life actually begin.

A subject that is close to my family as we lost a pregnancy at six weeks; a blow that came as a terrible surprise after seeing a series of Ultrasounds of a healthy beating heart.

I’d be a complete liar to say that the experience was not a powerful blow to our faith. It was a pain equal to the loss of a walking breathing child, and since then we have not been able to conceive again.

Even today, my daughter refers to her as her lost sister Audrey. A sister that she says she will meet in heaven one day.

And per the choice of adoption, another point that hits directly home after screening the film. We are a family in the midst of serious consideration in bringing an adopted child into our home, and have done much research on the subject.

The worth of a life, and when it begins, is a gigantic topic. A topic riddled with war prompting pros and cons. Yet a fight that is fundamentally pure to answer with responsible birth control and compassionate support to those who are frightened and pregnant. And with this assertion, I’ll ready my email for a blast of, “I hate you Richard” comments. But if you choose to send one, please take into account, that I have a family, have lost a child, cast no judgment and position myself in accepting how, where and who you choose to worship and the lifestyle you follow.

Oh yea, I’m also OK with a few positive words as well.

I ask Jonathan for his vision of the future.

“I can’t answer for the future… that is not for us to decide…” Jonathan bids… “’…but I will say this, ‘Today is the day to get right with the Lord… Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.’”

Jonathan, you have opened your mouth and your heart to us all. It takes character to do that… And in your admonitions I can truly take heed in your proclamations of Christ…

“And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.”

We don’t all have to become best friends, not even casual acquaintances. But the more we empower ourselves to, without reticule, lust or contempt, put our feet in the shoes of other’s, working to do our part of building an accepting community while looking towards a greater God in having faith of what is to come. Then perhaps we may begin a path to having a broader understanding of what is to come.

Per Jonathan, “Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.”