Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Let Go Of The Can!

In February, after returning from my last trip to the states, I was in the Frankfurt airport waiting for my luggage. As I waited for my bags to come down the conveyor belt I saw another man doing the same thing. However there was one difference between him and me, he was holding a can of some type of drink in one hand. I noticed the drink and thought to myself about how after a long trans-Atlantic flight it is nice to have something to drink.

Then, before my bags came along the man with the can spotted one of his bags. Like many people he had a large bag that was packed pretty good and when it came by him he grabbed it, but he didn't let go of the can! I watched in amazement as he struggled to get his one bag off of the conveyor belt with only one hand. He did it but it took a lot of effort and certainly much more than he would have needed had he used both hands. Then something even more amazing happened, his second bag arrived and he did the same thing! This man was on the opposite side of the baggage pick up area from where I was and too far away for me to help him but I wanted to yell at him, "Hey, let go of the can!" It would seem like an obvious thing to do, but rather than drop the can he struggled to get his two bags with only his one free hand.

Shortly after this incident my luggage arrived and I left the baggage claim area. As I walked away I thought about how hard it was for this man to do what he needed to do because he would not let go of the can he was holding. This was an example to me of how so many people go through life hanging on to things that although they are not wrong, what they are holding on to makes what they need to do in life more difficult than it has to be.

This reminded me of what it says in Hebrews 12:1 where it tells us to lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Often times it is not the sin that becomes a problem but it is the extra weight that holds us back from "running our race" for God as Hebrews 12 goes on to say. We need to keep an eye on the things we hold on to in life, like that man did with the can, and let go of anything that might hinder us from being as effective as we ought to be. God has a great plan for each and every person and by putting aside the things that hinder us we can be more productive in the things that we do.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Teaching AND Translating

On Thursday nights I lead a Bible study in the city of Cologne. The group is made up of people from several different nations and normally we do the meeting entirely in English. That may sound strange to lead a group in English while living in Germany. But there are a number of people here who speak English and it is simpler to lead a group in one language. Occasionally we do have some people who do not speak English at the Bible study so someone translates for me. This group has been going for over two years now and it is always something I look forward to.

Last night was a different meeting than normal. I did my usual part of leading the group and teaching the lesson but I had an extra job to do last night, I was the translator too! This is actually the second time this happened. Last night there were two people at the meeting who did not speak enough English to be able to understand the lesson without translation. The only problem was that no one was present who could translate. One young man in the group volunteered to try to do it but he did have a few moments where he got stuck and so for some of the group I would say something in German and then translate it myself into English. The other time this happened I did the whole thing on my own.

My German language skills are not at the level where I would consider myself a fluent speaker of the language but I can get by and have some conversations with people solely in German. But, translating yourself from German into English is another thing! And because my German is not as good as it could be there were a few funny moments as I mixed up some words or used a completely wrong word and had to have someone else help me out. It certainly made the evening a very interesting and memorable one.

Now, I am by no means trying to drum up sympathy here. I am willing to do whatever it takes to do what I am supposed to do. The first time I did this it was harder because I had never done it before. But, it did work so when faced with the situation the second time I was more prepared to jump in since I had been down the road before. This whole thing motivates me to improve my German language skills more but it also shows the importance of being ready for anything and being willing to do whatever it takes, even if it sometimes means doing double duty.