January 8th 2005, 01:06 PM #1
Shopping Mall Evangelism With Crusty the Christian Part 6
Shopping Mall Evangelism With Crusty the Christian Part 6
By Gary Piper
Admin. at NSM
Everyone has or should have their own special place where they can be alone with Jesus where the finite and Infinite can enjoy each other’s presence.
Crusty’s special place is the mall. That may appear strange to some because you usually associate places where there is no confusion to be alone with Jesus. In my conversations with Crusty I’ve learned that even though there are people surrounding him he can still be alone with Jesus. "Besides," he told me, "Where better to be alone with Jesus than where he’d be?" Sometimes it amazes me how he can detach himself so completely from his surroundings but I know he can because I’ve been with him when he’s done it. Any way let’s get back to the story.
Sitting with his pocket Bible open in his favorite spot in front in the windows facing the main parking lot Crusty stared out into the raging snowstorm. "God," he prayed, "you’ve killed 150,000 people and have changed the face of the earth. I know it may not have been at your hand directly but you are ultimately responsible for the devastation from the recent earthquake and resulting tsunami. 150,000 people Lord, where were you? Why didn’t you stop it? Lord, I am trying to make sense of it all but nothing makes any sense. A loving God allowing the unspeakable and un-comprehendible to happen it just doesn’t make sense."
Suddenly the wind changed directions and began driving the huge snowflakes directly into the window. After a few moments Crusty shook his head as if he were snapping out of a hypnotic trance brought on by staring into the storm. "Isn’t the weather prophetic today and very symbolic of how I feel?" Crusty asked himself.
After a few moments of listening to the howling wind blowing against the windows, "God, aren’t you going to defend yourself?" he prayed rather indigently.
Seconds later, "what makes you think he needs defending," a strangers voice startled Crusty.
Quickly turning around he noticed a thin looking older man with a white beard long enough to touch his chest sitting at the table next to him. "Were you speaking to me?" Crusty asked in an abrupt tone.
Turning slowly around and scanning the immediate area the stranger replied, "I don’t see anyone else sitting nearby."
Before replying Crusty quickly glanced around and in a sheepish tone replied, "Neither do I. You must have been eavesdropping."
Crusty assessed the stranger to be in his mid 60’s. "Don’t I know you from somewhere?" he asked.
"Perhaps," came the quick response.
"Then I do know you?" Crusty questioned.
"We’ll see," the man quickly replied.
Determining that he was getting nowhere Crusty decided to change his tactics, "Don’t you think God should defend himself? After all with what’s happened between the four powerful hurricanes last fall and the recent earthquake and tsunami I think somebody should after all He’s given himself a pretty black eye."
The stranger picked up his coffee cup put it to his lips took a long slow drink and returned it to the table. "See that snowstorm out there?" he asked slowly.
Crusty immediately turned his head in the direction of the windows and noticing the storm had gathered momentum he discovered he could no longer see the cars parked on the other side of the driveway. "Do I ever see it!" he exclaimed.
"Have you ever been in the vaults where the snow is stored for storms such as this? Have you ever been in the vaults where hailstones are stored?" the man questioned Crusty.
At first the mans question did not sink in because Crusty just sat there as if he were in a trance of some kind then suddenly it hit. What is this guy some kind of a nut or something, he thought to himself, snow vaults, hailstone vaults.
"I’m not sure I heard you correctly," Crusty started, "did you just ask me if I’ve ever been there the snow and hail are stored for storms?"
"Yes," came the reply.
After a moment of silence, "I’m not sure I understand you correctly," Crusty commented.
Before the stranger had a chance to speak a loud crashing noise startled Crusty causing him to jump nearly off his seat. Turning instantly toward the windows he was horrified to see the snow had turned to hailstones. All of a sudden a hush fell on the occupants of the mall land the only sound to be heard was that of the hail hitting the windows and roof.
Moments later, "Who are you?" Crusty managed to say.
Again slowly lifting his cup to his mouth and taking another long slow drink, "I am a man who waits for an answer to his simple question." He then placed the cup back on the table shifted his eyes and looked directly at Crusty’s eyes.
Crusty could feel his heart begin pounding faster and faster as questions sped through his mind. "I still don’t understand your question," he cautiously replied.
Let me put it another way the man answered, "Where were you when God laid the foundations of the earth? Were you looking over the Creators shoulder when he determined its measurement? Were you looking over the Creators shoulder when He endowed the earth with forces necessary for its survival? Is there anyone alive who can know these things?"
As Crusty sat quietly thinking about the questions just put to him he could feel himself becoming defensive after all who was this stranger who had invaded his space. "Who are you?" he asked indigently.
The man did not answer but remained quiet.
Meanwhile Crusty’s frustration and defensiveness grew and grew, "You already know that when God created the earth no one was alive! What kind of question is that?" Crusty asked in a loud voice.
But the man remained quiet.
And the frustration and defensiveness became anger and thinking he was going on the offensive Crusty exploded, "Listen friend," he started, "I may not have an answer for you but there are those who can! Our scientists have made huge breakthroughs in DNA and cloning and are nearly at the point of creating life!"
Crusty paused for a second to catch his breath and in a louder voice continued, "and as far as the earths origin with the new intelligent creation theory it won’t be too long before we understand completely the way God created everything. Then shortly after that we’ll understand even God himself!" As Crusty finished the hailstones returned to snow and an eerie silence descended on the two men.
Feeling as though his offensive attack went well Crusty smugly waited for the stranger to eat crow.
After several minutes the strangers voice broke the silence, "Is it your voice that causes the earth to tremble? Is it the voice of your scientists that cause the earth to heave to and fro? Tell me who on earth is strong enough to tame the power of the seas, the power of the wind?"
"Who are you and why don’t you talk to me rather than just ask rhetorical questions?" Crusty replied.
"Who I am is of no significance and my questions although appearing to have no real significance are more important than you realize. Scientists think through DNA and cloning mankind can gain immortality yet tell me if the earth does not survive what will become of mankind’s human immortality?"
Suddenly Crusty’s anger and frustration began to subside and in a much calmer voice, "What do you mean if the earth does not survive? He replied.
"Do we think we can continue to abuse earth without serious repercussions? What would happen if we humans killed our planet?" he questioned.
"Kill the earth?" Crusty quickly responded
"Did you not know the earth has a life of its own? Do you think it would commit suicide? Don’t you understand that all things created by the Creator have been given spiritual life? Don’t you understand that all ‘things’ the Creators has given life are codependent?"
This time the questions didn’t put Crusty on the defensive as the last ones had however he had no real answer for them so he remained silent.
"We humans view life from the moment we are born or the moment of our conception until we draw our last breath. And now with scientific technology seek to see that never happens. Is that all there is to life? If not what is life? You spoke of "intelligent design" and mankind ultimately understanding God. Is it possible that humans will one day understand God?"
The questions were coming to fast for Crusty and suddenly he found himself overwhelmed by them. But the stranger’s questions were relentless, "Who is there that is powerful enough and with sufficient wisdom to put God on the defensive? Who is there with knowledge equal to Creators that can comprehend the vast mystery of life in all it forms?"
There was a brief pause then, "Do you still think God needs to defend himself?"
"But who it to blame for the terrible devastations that have we have seen lately? Over 150,000 people have died in Asia, thousands of homes destroyed in Florida how do we account for them, and other natural disasters? Do we blame ourselves? Do we blame God? Now it’s your turn to answer me," Crusty replied.
As before the man reached for his coffee cup moved it to his lips and took a long slow drink then returned it to its place on the table. Staring out the window the man replied, "I cannot for I am of limited knowledge, limited intelligence, and limited wisdom. I cannot even answer the questions posed to me long ago."
Crusty at first thought the man was coping out yet deep in his spirit something or someone told him the stranger was sincere that he was not taking the easy way out.
After pausing for a moment the stranger turned his attention to Crusty, "If I were to live a million, million lifetimes I would never fully comprehend and understand the Creator. The personhood of the Creator cannot be understood using DNA. Yet there are times when His Infinite Spirit unites with my finitude and leave me with another mystery to contemplate. So in response to your question I can but leave you with another mystery."
Without hesitation, "I still don’t know who you are and something tells me I may never know but I also know are you real. So I want to hear your mystery I am sure it will be in the form of question," Crusty replied.
Without hesitation, "When the Creator spoke the earth into existence who was there? When He gave it its ability to sustain itself from the powerful forces deep in its core with the potential to blow into a billion pieces? What would happen if the forces deep in the earth could not be vented? What would happen to all of life? Who was there when the Creator balanced all the earth ecosystems? What will happen to the earth now that its delicate ecosystems have been unbalanced? Should it not defend itself? Answer these questions if you can."
Just as Crusty started to answer the stranger his cell phone rang momentarily catching him off guard. Shaking his head he found himself hypnotized by the snowflakes blowing directly at him. Looking around in preparation to answer the man he was gone. Glancing quickly in all directions the stranger was nowhere to be seen. Reaching for his cell phone he nervously said, "hello."
"Crusty, is that you?" it was his wife’s voice.
Still looking around for the stranger and without thinking Crusty replied, "Who you think it would be, God?"
"Couldn’t be God he’d be better looking and more caring then you?" she responded.
"Sorry, honey," Crusty apologized, "I’ve just had the most bizarre experience I’ve ever had and I still haven’t figured it out yet. Do you need something?"
"No, not really. I just needed to know you were alright it’s snowing pretty hard out there."
"I am okay, honey. I’ll be home in ten minutes or so."
"Thanks, Crusty. I’d feel more at ease if you were here and off the roads."
"You worry too much. Don’t forget with Jesus riding with me he’ll see that nothing happens. See ya in a little while. Want me to run through the drive thru?" Crusty asked.
"That sounds good. Surprise me."
"I’ll surprise you alright," Crusty jokingly replied, closing his phone and putting it in his pocket.
He found his eyes drawn to the open Bible sitting on the table in front of him and began reading, "Then Yahweh answered Job out of the whirlwind, "Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man, for I will question you, then you answer me!"*
Looking in the direction the man was sitting Crusty said out loud, "Your name is Job." And sat very still as if he were waiting for an answer. As if it were a response to his statement the snow and wind suddenly stopped and the sun shone brightly. Without saying a word several minutes later he stood up put his coat on and headed out the door.
Grace and Peace,
*Job 38:1 – 38:3 World English Bible
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