By Dick Brogden
Yesterday was a glorious morning in Cairo. In my abiding time the heavens opened. The presence of Jesus was real, the Scriptures illuminated and I feasted on every line. “This is going to be a great day!” I thought to myself as I headed out the door. I had a simple banking errand to run, and I put three New Testaments in my satchel, determined to share the gospel with three people and leave them with a Bible.
I collected a letter from our business that proved I was an owner. I had my passport, my residency card, and my rental contract — all the things the bank told me I needed to renew my registration. The day was so glorious and my spirit so free that I decided to walk to the bank. I bubbled over with joy at the privilege of living in the Arab world. I beamed at vendors and street sweepers and greeted anyone and everyone as I walked. It was going to be a great day. How could it not be with such a joyous swelling within?
I got to the bank. The branch was closed with a “for rent” sign hung on its empty shell. Bummer, but no problem. I googled the next closest branch and decided to walk there. That one, too, was closed. Not a catastrophe. On to the next one. Finally finding an open branch I was served by lovely and friendly clerks. (I should note that this is the fifth time in one year I have provided the same paperwork for them.) Smiles turned to frowns as they asked for a utility receipt. I had my wife take a picture and “WhatsApp” it to me. Smiles again. Then they noticed the name on the utility receipt was different than the name on my rental contract. Smiles to frowns. I pleaded my case, pointing out that the address on the rental contact and the address on the receipt were the same one. Phone calls and more frowns. “We are sorry, sir. You will need a letter from your place of work saying that you live at this address.”
It was my turn to frown. My angry eyes may have made an appearance. I protested that I owned the business and would happily write them a letter. They patiently explained that my human resource department had to do it. “I AM THE HUMAN RESOURCE DEPARTMENT,” I angrily and arrogantly said. They were unconvinced, and at that point I did not feel right about sliding the New Testament from my bag to leave them with a cheerful wave.
My computer crashed last week and a friend dropped it off at the repair store. Frustrated from the failure at the bank, I cooled down by walking to the computer store. They informed me that the part needed to diagnose the computer was in Dubai and would not arrive for a week. “What is the best-case scenario after the tool comes?” I asked. The man cheerfully replied: “We for sure will know what’s wrong with it within eight weeks.” I was so upset I sulked out of there with another Bible remaining in my bag.
Tired of walking in vain pursuits, I hailed a taxi. One more chance to redeem the day. The taxi driver delivered me the short distance home but intentionally did not start the meter. I offered him an acceptable fare for that distance, but he wanted triple the amount. We “discussed” our differences for a while, and the angry eyes not only appeared but made a few curtain calls. Finally, I put my fare on his dash, pointed to the big ZERO on his meter, and said lovingly as I disembarked, “Take the stupid fare or take the big fat zero and next time use your meter.” I then huffed and puffed off into my apartment, another Bible nestled safely in my bag.
A day started in the Spirit but ended in the flesh. Lord, have mercy on me, on us. How easy it is to let little annoyances make us miss opportunities. How often do our Bibles remain in our bags because we act foolishly or carnally, or in ways that undermine the message we want and need to share?
Lord Jesus, today may no one miss out on hearing the gospel because I did not lean on YOU to overcome minor, accumulated frustrations. Help us, Jesus, to be bigger than the little things.