Tom Nelson is one of my favorite Bible teachers. He says that when God reaches down and touches his finger into the stagnant pool of humanity that it sends ripples across the surface for immeasurable distances. In my experience, that distance is approximately 1300 miles..
Tom Nelson (of Denton Bible Church, Denton, TX) is one of my favorite Bible teachers. He says that when God reaches down and touches his finger into the stagnant pool of humanity that it sends ripples across the surface for immeasurable distances. In my experience, that distance is approximately 1300 miles.
Carolyn’s mom gave her a set of fruit note pads. Some were in the shape of plums, some apples, and some… bananas. It was the banana note pad that peeled back the ordinary in our lives one extraordinary day in Monticello.
I’d find them about the house – one-dimensional, bright, canary-colored, banana-shaped notes that could instantly bring a smile or a grimace, depending upon the message they carried. They could be as innocuous as: “So-and-so called. Call them at such-and-such a number.” Or they could be as self-defeating as: “You’ve got to do our state taxes!” Or they might be delightfully surprising as: “You’re the funniest person I know. Love, Caro.” (OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but it could happen)
On this particular day, however, Carolyn was preparing a grocery list or something like that. She was the master of the banana pad. She’d removed it from the side of the fridge by a magnet on its back and stripped a banana from its bulk to jot down her note when she happened to glance at the banana that now lay exposed to the world, ready for the next note…
Someone had already written on it! “How strange,” she thought. But her casual curiosity quickly transformed to unconcealed astonishment by what it read – actually she couldn’t read it at all. For there, handwritten on the next banana was 3 lines in Chinese.
In an instant, her mind accepted and discarded dozens of possibilities for what it might say or be:
? “Congratulations, you’re the lucky winner in our Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes. Please notify us by January 1, 1998.”
? “Help! I’m being held prisoner in a pad factory in Beijing!”
? “Your pad is running low. You may reorder another pad at www….”
As she excitedly showed the writing to me, she was also a little skeptical. She actually accused me of writing it. Maybe she thought I had been sneaking away every night to learn Chinese on the sly for this elaborate prank. I guess it was my track record. I had to play the “Yes-this-is-real.-No,-I-promise-I’m-not-pulling-your-leg” routine several times.
After I’d convinced her of its authenticity, we enjoyed several minutes of some the finest deductive work Monticello had seen in recent years. I was Sherlock Holmes, and she was my trust Watson. Or maybe she was Velma, and I was Shaggy. At any rate, it was decided that she would run the now decidedly Chinese banana by the “Fortune Cookie” cookie the next day to see if anyone there might translate it for us.
We may never know exactly when God disturbed the surface of our pond, but for once in our lives, we could measure the distance that the ripples travelled. You see, it’s about 1300 miles from China to the “Fortune Cookie” restaurant in Monticello, Arkansas. That was where the gentle but incessant ripples pushed a seemingly trivial memo pad note ashore.
For Carolyn took the note the very next day to the restaurant and explained to the teenager behind the cash register what we wanted. She was English, but she took the note to the kitchen, and after several minutes, the teen returned with one of the Chinese young men who worked there.
He asked Carolyn in halting English, “You write this?” When Carolyn said no, he related to her, “Oh. Well, this say, ‘Jesus Christ is God.’
Thank you very much.” And with an intrigued but polite smile, he returned to the kitchen.
Carolyn was dumfounded, but the teen behind the counter was ecstatic. She quickly informed Carolyn that she’d been praying for her employers for some time, that they might come to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our banana was a cannonball in the deep end of the pool at the Fortune Cookie that day.
We may never know when God stirred someone’s heart in a factory in China to write a note on a banana pad that would be shipped to the U.S., bought by my mother-in-law, given to my wife, stuck on our fridge and finally used to deliver a message of life and hope and truth to another Chinese person in Monticello, Arkansas. We just know He did.
For us, those ripples traveled 1300 miles. But if God uses the message to touch your heart, they’ve traveled still further. Why don’t you step down a little closer to the water’s edge and… have a banana.
On this day...
- A la carte: Are you doing team leadership wrong?, Interns, and 3 Issues Churches Must Answer - 2013
- Don't get hell wrong - 2011
- Congratulations, Kris: a missed opportunity? - 2009
- A Sheep's Tale - 2004