Our family is taking a week of vacation in the Pyrenees, doing some skiing. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to join them, since I hurt my knee. It is getting better, but the doctor said skiing would not be good. So I find myself driving them to and from the mountain and preparing all the meals. It’s not a bad deal, especially for them. It’s given me a chance to do a little reading.
An author I really enjoy is Bill Bryson, so I went to the Franco-American Institute and checked out A Walk in the Woods. Bryson tells stories with remarkable color and perspective, but he desperately needs the Lord. In it he tells the story of hiking the Appalachian Trail with his friend Katz. He and Katz hiked over one third of the trail one summer. Towards the end they stay at a guesthouse and meet a young couple who have almost finished hiking the entire trail. In their brief conversation, they mention their faith in Jesus. Bryson clearly doesn’t esteem the two, saying of the girl that there was something serenely mindless in her manner. His response to their transparent faith is to take a mental note to lock his door.
Immediately following this is a heart to heart conversation with his friend Katz out on the trail. Katz is a recovered drug addict who after three years of being clean started drinking again. In a vulnerable moment he says, “There’s just this kind of hole in my life where drinking used to be.” The best Bryson can offer is a “stupidly affectionate jab on the shoulder.” How ironic that just a day before they met two people who had purpose in life, a relationship with God who is the only one who can fill that gaping hole that drinking or any of our idols fake.
The young couple struck him as too weird, and maybe they were. Christians often have a culture vastly different from the rest. Of course, some things are good. But I can’t help thinking of Jesus, able to live a perfectly sinless life while rubbing shoulders with prostitutes and sinners of the day. Jesus had a magnetic quality. Everywhere he went, people flocked to him, wanted to hear his words, drink from those streams of living water. We are called to be Jesus to this world. Are people attracted to us? Are we fun to hang out with? Do we struggle to relate?..