- Religion and Philosophy
To Be Paid In Full With A Glass of Milk
Lessons on Discipleship
You are in a middle of a marathon when, suddenly, you felt numbness in your left foot. This is your dream and you’ve long wanted to win. Will you stop? Or you will continue to the finish line in spite of your condition.
The enemy has broken my stronghold! Alas! He started to attack! “You’re not very busy, hah?”, he intrudes. I was alone in the lab on a graveyard shift. “Well, that friend of yours you’ve been helping out? Ohhh, dear, you are just casting pearls in a swine” he grinned.
Self-pity was suddenly eating me up.
I thought I was over it.
As a junior shepherd to Nokg, I have always put his needs every inch above my own. Of course, I am not expecting to be reciprocated but there came a time that I needed his help.
Shortly before leaving for vacation in November, my recurring allergic rhinitis attacked me. I was out early from work and other appointments were cancelled as well. I felt numbness in my whole body caused by the feasting viruses in my system.
That day at noon, he knocked on my door and saw me lying in bed, eyes swollen due to the viral attack. He knew I was sick.
As a company cook, he prepares routinely for dinner at 4:30pm. At that time, I sent a message asking if he could spare a meal for me. I felt so weak to cook for myself as I usually do. Six o’clock, seven… there was neither reply nor any hint of granting my humble request.
Soon after, he came in. With all his guts, he asked if we could go out for his mid-week marketing. Wwwwhaaat?! (the company does not provide transport for his purchasing, so we are using my own). I did not respond for a while. I was still lying on my bed. But in a trembling voice, brought about by hunger and anger, I tried to pull my self up and asked if he received my message. In a jiffy, he lied, saying he did not. After a moment of conviction, he admitted receiving it late. How bizarre! As if there was ever a network breakdown!
The room was filled with silence. There was a tremendous vacuum. I was utterly devastated by his gesture. The humiliations and mockery were buried into oblivion but this one was the worst. It was unbearable. And I mean, it was unbearable!
I ran hurriedly yet calmly out of the room and sat inside my old, dilapidated car that was parked outside our villa. I was palpitating. It was almost like a Mt.Pinatubo erupting!
Having managed my anger, by God’s grace, I went back. Struggling to remain unperturbed, I filled the teapot with water and started heating. I needed something to fill in my raging tummy. Even in my condition, it would have been so easy to leave, thump the door and drive for a dinner out. But an inner voice told me not to. I don’t want to show ignominy to my “sheep”. I was thankful to God that there was grace under pressure.
When the tea was ready, I broke the silence by inviting him to join me. He refused. The atmosphere in the room remained like a deserted cemetery at twilight.
He left after some time… without a word.
I prayed for God’s strength and enlightenment for both of us. Early morning the next day, I unloaded the very heavy emotional baggage to a trusted friend, SB. As a Christian, I do not want to nurture resentment in my heart.
Lunchtime in the canteen, SB inquired of my state to him. Hoping to hear a positive reply, a geyser of perilous lava spewed out from his mouth instead! He was just pretending to be sick! Those were his poignant words. Grrrrr!!!! It was like the powerful left hand punch of Manny Pacquiao on the right jaw of Eric Morales! I felt I was knocked out.
If not giving food was unbearable, this was simply unforgivable! Who, on Earth, in his right mind, wanted to get sick?
I must admit I was deeply hurt.
I never wished to sing my own praises or to sound like one but I would always acquiesce to all his requests and demands. This is discipleship in action, I would often encourage myself. There were several occasions when I’m pushed against the wall and wanted to give up but I would always hear a still, small voice saying a big NO! He was just too precious a soul to give up.
However, the simple event of not giving food and all the similar acts of uncanny behavior suffused me yesterday. The indifference that he is showing is unthinkable. I was in deep emotional turmoil, crying out to God for comfort. I felt so alone and empty.
All of a sudden, right at that very moment of murmuring and whining, someone sent me a message - a powerful, wonderful message of comfort. It was this new colleague’s first ever text to me. It read:
One stormy night, a child knocked at a woman’s house. The child was very weak. The woman prepared a glass of milk for him and learned that his name is Howard. The child was very thankful.
After several years, the woman grew old and very sick. No one cared for her. When she was admitted in the hospital, she worried that she did not have enough money to pay. After the operations, there was a short note beside her table. It was the bill she had to pay. Trembling, the note read:
“Bill is paid in just one glass of milk!”
- Dr. Howard
It sent shiver down my spine. The presence of the Lord was overwhelming! His love was so evident in the room that I almost sensed He was tapping me on my shoulder to pacify me, to comfort me and to encourage me. I wept like a hungry child.
I felt so small before the Lord for allowing the red-eyed monster of self-pity to blur my vision of God’s promise of reward, at the appointed time, which He will bestow by not giving up on doing good (Galatians 6:9-10). Besides, knowing that He is not unjust; that He will not forget our work and the love we have shown Him as we have helped His children and continue to help them (Hebrews 6:10) is more than enough to keep on pressing forward.
It toyed in my mind; if only GOD was as tangible as we are at that moment, He would have rebuked me (of course, with compassion!) right on my face, “O man of little faith!”
"Lord, forgive me as I forgive Nok for he knew not what he did,” would be my humble reply.