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?


Access to Me

I resisted buying a cell phone.  The car was one of my last refuges from people.  

I bought one, and moved to a “smart” phone soon after.  

Now I have to decide when to leave it in the truck when I get home so I won’t answer it.  I leave it in the charger so that the battery will last when I go to bed at night.  It is no different from when I was a student.  If I chose a table in the main part of the library to study, I knew I was open to socializing.  It was the code.  I have spend plenty of non-productive hours in the library.  

I then learned to find great hiding places where I worked when I chose to focus, and amazing things followed.  The only difference is that the “preserve” around solitude used to be much greater, if that makes sense.  With a phone in your pocket, bike pack, back pack or purse, the “preserve” is as small as your personal interaction zone.  Small.  

WITH that I have noticed an image coming in through sci-fi and other sources: the hive or interconnected mentality where one participates in the inmost thoughts of thousands.  It was in the Borg in Star Trek, it will come again in Card’s vision for the enemy in Ender’s Game.  

Think about it.  We have this desire (many of us) to share intimacy, to share ourselves with others (Facebook, Pinterest, all the new sites) and we think it may be possible somewhere out there. 

Christians found something as close as humanly possible in the beginning of Christianity and coined a word for it — koinonia — the concept of fellowship that is intimate and powerful.  

So how do you balance the two?  The thirst for some solitude and some sense of belonging to others and possibly to something big?  I don’t know a lot, but I know that both take work.  Both demand time.  

Both are worth it.  And my saying that may be an almost unconscionable grace.  I am grateful if it is.