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?

 

Tolkien’s Translations

I am not touching JRR Tolkien’s etymological and philogical scholarship or astounding work in creating the languages of Middle Earth.  I am not touching them because the scope and brilliance is beyond me.  Humility 101 was hard for me, but this one is obvious.

I simply want to think briefly on two events that he translated into his works: one lovely and the other harrowing.  

The lovely one came while his beloved Edith sang and danced for him in a grove of hemlock trees near where he was convalescing (again) in World War 1.  She was enough for him, more than enough.  Out of all of the loneliness while he was at the front in World War 1, those minutes when her hair was still raven and her skin clear gave us the strong, vulnerable, winsome and brave women in the Trilogy.  Be they elven, long or short lived, born to horses or court: his women were royal, gritty, indefatigable, and every bit as brave as any man.  

And Edith was enough as his font of knowing, his muse, and his encourager.  My Jill is unlikely to sing, except when she is unaware of my attention, but she has faced our trials: financial and health, life and death with a courage that she would deny and I cling to in my own hopes.  

So Tolkien and all of the rest of us men have more than enough in the courageous love of one woman committing herself to any of us boys cum men.  

Tolkien also translated his WW1 experiences into gritty, harrowing, believable battles where men make their semingly feckless way across inconceivable mayhem and horror.  What is so astonishing is that after “second lieutenants (his rank) dying at the rate of a dozen a minute” and losing all but one friend among the millions dead in the first round of industrialized warfare — he still wrote that one man (or woman) could make a difference on a battlefield.  

Tolkien’s war privations of cold, lice, and infections as well as the shells packaging so many new ways to die trickled through his pen into men fighting for the existence of men as a species believably both on the battlefields and in the calling of Sam and Frodo with so much weighing down their very souls behind enemy lines.

JRR translatd both his love and his dread believably, beautifully into his works.  Courage is a terribly lonely calling against the backdrop of an entire world insanely trying to extinguish itself.  Love is courgeous work as well.  

I may not translate my courage nor my love anywhere nearly as well in print, but I must, I must translate it well enough so that my sons have a model on which to build something brave, something better than I did.  They must see their mom that way, and learn to see their wives and challenges no less courageously.