I’ve been thinking a lot about my last blog in terms of triumph and its relationship with the ability to sense God. A friend of mine wrote me that God’s love is also manifested in prosperity and triumph. I agreed with him and didn’t deny it at all. As I got to think about it more and more, I remembered one experience with a student that I worked with who turned to be my good friend and brother. So, this is a story about a triumph: a triumph of grace.
Meet Ronald. I first met him in a fellowship house where I stayed in Bandung, Indonesia. It was pouring rain heavily that night. With vestiges of rain on his clothes he walked in, said hi to me, then sat on a large bed functioning as a sofa in the living room. I was reading a book when he came. Out of courtesy, I put my book aside and started engaging in conversation with him. From the conversation, I learned he was a junior college student studying Geology in Bandung Institute of Technology. I asked him why he came in the middle of the rain while most people might have been curling up in bed or chilled out. He told me he came for the small group that he attended regularly with one of my housemates. He gained more of my attention as I observed that none of his friends from the small group or even my housemate had arrived already. His willingness to make a journey in the rain appalled me. Later, I learned this young man had a pure heart to learn.
As I kept bumping into him over time, I grew interested to know him more. Sometimes when I rode around town with my moped and passed his place, I would stop by impulsively. I enjoyed his thoughts on ministry, philosophy, church doctrines, and his life. He is a brilliant young man. But our friendship encountered obstacles. Our differences on seeing issues were the great divider. It reached a point where I couldn’t bear our unhealthy friendship anymore. I decided to write him a message through Facebook. He replied the same day. With an intense logic, he described our situation. I really appreciated the way he ordered his arguments. He called me a dippy cow in reference to my slow thinking process. I should have been more sensitive when in the same message he said that he was actually looking for a friend to talk with. I should have picked up that cue; instead due to my immaturity I wrote him back capriciously and called him a lonesome pathetic Pharisee. Our friendship broke.
It took a while before our friendship restored. That was a journey of learning to humble ourselves before one another. For many-months our friendship stayed stranded in “we used to be friend-land”. We still bumped into each other but now we acted like strangers, like nothing had happened between us. He did his business and I did mine. Oddly, as we kept running into each other, a connection between us started to rekindle. I started appreciating Ronald as a person in a way I had never done before, then later I found myself starting to care about him sincerely. Ronald himself humbly showed his willingness to reconnect with me. One day, I was surprised when I learned from my other housemate that Ronald had decided to stay with us for the next year. To me, personally, it communicated something redemptive about our friendship. And I was not wrong. Our friendship restored as we grew in understanding and shared fun as housemates. He became a dear brother of mine.
I view the story as a story of triumph; where grace the victor used a friendship of flawed mankind as its instrument. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)