“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15
A few years ago I had the opportunity to live with a guy named Shota. We worked together at Northstar Outdoor Adventures in Japan. Shota is Japanese. He loves snowboarding, ramen noodles, and cooking.
I vividly remember the night I met Shota. I had just arrived in Japan and was introduced to him as we got in a van with another friend, Brad. Shota only knew a few English words: “Hi! My name Shota” and I (still) know very little Japanese. Shota and I were roommates for 6 months. It was probably one of the harder experiences of my life.
I was lonely even though I had people around me all the time. The people I worked with and my housemates were mostly Japanese. The language barrier made communication difficult. A bilingual co-worker told me Shota had grown up in a Christian church but saw religion as boring and something only old people did. When I heard his perspective, I felt lost and sad for him. I thought “I spend most of my time with a guy who doesn’t see how exciting following Jesus is.”
Jesus led with a perfect example. The disciples led with a flawed, human example. Pray and live in a way reflecting what Jesus did for you. Take the adventures as they come and allow God to use them as an example to others the way Jesus and the disciples are examples to us.
I started praying every night for Shota from the bunk under his in a language he didn’t understand. I prayed we as co-workers would show there is more to following Jesus than looking good or following rules. I worked hard to love Shota well and to be an example of someone who loves Jesus by living an adventurous life. I didn’t always do great, but I prayed God would still use me in Shota’s life.
Fast forward a few months: I was back in America, sitting in a wooded park in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania catching up on some emails when I see one from a co-worker still living in Japan. The subject said: “Shota chose to follow Jesus today!”
Shota explained it this way: “I have always seen Christianity as an empty coffee cup. It looked alright on the outside but there was never anything else to it. After spending time at Northstar, I see a full cup. Christianity is not just something looking nice on the outside, but something full of good, something to fuel adventure and bring joy to life.”
None of us who worked at Northstar ever claimed to be perfect. We are all so far from it, but when we choose the follow Jesus, the adventures seem to present themselves in crazy ways. Following where He leads us brings life and joy.
- Is your life more like the empty coffee cup or the full coffee cup? (Do you look nice from the outside while you are empty inside?)
- Who in your daily life needs Jesus? What are you praying and doing to show them love and the excitement of following Christ?
- Praying and doing are both important. Do you find yourself often doing one more than the other? If so, what steps can you take towards others based on what you’re praying now? Do you need to pray for bigger things?
By Ben Palsha | Twinsburg, OH