Nabeel, faith and noes.

Nabeel Qureshi was a most educated youth minister.  Most never attend med school, maintain the years of A’s it takes to get and stay there, and they don’t face proliferating possibilities like Nabeel faced.  He wrestled to be a doc on three continents, to retell his conversion from Islam on six continents, and encourage this newest generation’s dreams.

I suggested he write a book.  To keep it simple.  To reveal his story as a form other Muslims could follow simply.  Not easily, but distilling complex questions into simple steps Nabeel took to follow God, Allah, he thought.

He grew into a warrior.  I watched postings to YouTube and the web and laughed aloud, “Be the first on your block to merit your very own fatwah!”

Then Nabeel was married, having a beautiful child and dying of stomach cancer as Muslims cheered wildly at life’s cruel judgment.  I prayed God to heal him.  I posted one such prayer to this blog.

God said, “No.”

People apologize for God, and bend the light on the matter saying, “God healed him, He just healed Nabeel by taking him to heaven.”  Touching sentiment.  God said, “No” to healing Nabeel and extending his impact here.  Nabeel died.

How does faith look after that?  For Nabeel, watch his haunting YouTubes on our hope in Christ out of this world into the next.  Beautiful.  Courageous.  Faith-filled.  Watch them.

For me it’s a gut kick.  Worse than watching your college team get man handled by a 3A high school squad.  Having been injured to the point of dying, I know that if I choose who prays for me, I want them praying for me like I’d pray for me to live.  If you hide behind, “whatever is Your Will, Father” in some non-invested theologically secure place, then save your breath.  No one knows if those prayers get answered.

Yes.  It’s harder to pray like cheering for your team, like cheering for mom if she’s sick.  Yes, the let downs are harder, but prayers uttered in wildly cheering faith is what I hope for if it is me, my child, my wife.  Those answers stiffen your prayers for decades.  Will you ride with me?

When we get off, finally, on the other side, I’ll introduce you to Nabeel.  He cheers from the other side now, see?



Greatness, it may be, is akin to thankfulness.

If you are great, popular, famous or any of the other notions we confuse together, you can’t live in front of a stadium full of people.  Sooner or later you’re home with –.  Do any of them love you for you, or do they all want or need something of your greatness?

And then you’re alone, with your greatness.  Do you even like you?  Can you enjoy hours with just you for company?

You cannot be great all the time for others.  It will kill you.

Thankfulness, may be somewhat similar.  You can be thankful for countries, freedoms, movies, God, salvation, and so on in stadiums, venues, or with a few.

When it is just you and a few, do they sense you are grateful for them, for who they are to you, beyond what they do for you.

And then there’s that being alone, again.  Does gratitude form attitudes with which you face challenges, disappointments, challenges, or life’s raw edges?

Sooner or later, greatness and thankfulness converge in private moments where either humility deepens you, or you must get back in front of someone, anyone.



Either, Or

George Whitenburg died last month.  Either he built a hugely successful law practice, raised a baseball team of kids in an industrially harmonious house, and well after retirement age had cancer, had cancer and one chemo treatment, died and is worm dirt in north Texas.

Or the God who permeated his existence, Who influenced his decisions and shaped his fierce persona to fight for the underdogs that came to him took him home to heaven rather than watch him waste away here.

Either all of George’s intellect and passion were attenuated neuronal pathways, slight changes in psychoparmaceutical chemistries and all his accumulated wisdom and genius, all his loves and memories are as good as ash — and when all who knew him are dust his entire existence will mire in meaninglessness.

Or that Lion all of us came to love, who rather than waste away walked off with the Creator who built him, and died for him, and has now resurrected him or holds him asleep until the resurrection.

I am coming to believe that one reason I am a believer is that I can’t abide the astonishing waste of an atheist’s hopelessness in the face of death.