Second Chance

Vic Frankle a captive in Nazi camp told
Of forced march to worksite that pre-dawn so cold
Their footwear not up to the labor they faced
Despair of a future with thoughts interlaced.

Then far in the distance the sunlight broke through
And flooded his soul with its warmth and a truth:
“All things they can take from us, even our life,
Except our response in the calm or the strife.”

As shrink and survivor he made that his task
His meaning-search focus shaped questions he’d ask
Till patients found focus for living again
Relief to their souls, and an easing of pain.

I found as a young man just after the war
His book made me ask what for me was in store
For vocation searched till one moment at night
The pathway emerged which for me I knew right.

My mother just shrugged, but my dad understood
That ‘settled-inside-ness’ that comes when we would
Put hand to the plough facing future not back
Enabling a focus so plough stays on track.

But slight hesitation from God I had heard
" 'Sort of' – but best option – just turn at my word”
I never looked back, walked through lots of tough times
The troubles not minding, with His purpose mine.

Days later I drove home before break of day
“If Parish and Manse with its cobblestone way
Are not in the cards, with no children or wife
Would there still be interest in giving your life?”

“Why yes”, then agreement locked in for Him too
We walked on together – though clumsy as fool,
Expecting a shift in direction some time
Not sure what he meant as I walked that fine line.

Then one night a dream – I before Him there stood,
“Well?” first was His question, “Do well, or just good?”
“I heard your idea, got trained, and took work –
Eight years – then I ran into wall like a jerk.

“I stayed at that wall, beat on it with my fists
Four decades, as faithful – wore hands down to wrists”
“Oh heck”, He replied, “I gave family and skill
To get the job done, just however you will”.

Surprised I awoke, figured if when it ends
That question we face with this best of our friends,
A far better answer I want Him to tell
For which I’d be willing to head off to hell.

I saw, “there’s a problem right now at year eight
No answer around, and this task’s on my plate:
To find out for others just what we can’t see
And if there’s no interest, at least it’s for me.

I chose to go west, start a business to fund
My quest for the answer, long-term was my run
Like marathon runner, I paced the long-haul
Then faced a grain-thrasher, and into its maw.

Emerging quite beat up with chaff blown away
Now ready for planting some fine springtime day
Like Frankle I look round for something to do
And how to respond to this freedom so new.

The answer, so simple, to my life-long quest:
“You’re Third Culture Kid, you don’t fit with the rest,
But over the wall to all others you speak
Apostle that makes you, not pastor or priest.

“The Church has forgotten that kind of clergy
So Pastors and Teachers predominate scene
Some Prophets, Evangelists , are scattered around
But only in Missions Apostles are found.

“Now most of the Church has a warped point of view:
See ‘Missions’ to poor and to foreigners too,
‘Come be just like us, if it’s God that you seek,
Then with Him, like us, you can walk and hear speak.’

“That’s just not appropriate for life in these days
Society’s folks come from hundreds of ways.
That warped view of Missions which rose in the past –
When chucked out the window then life is a blast!

“For two thousand years with the Jews God worked hard
They said to the others, ‘come on into our yard
If it’s God whom you seek, this way is for you
Most others declined – liked their own culture too.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Backwards we’ve got it you guys,
Let’s strip it all down to ‘lite version and wise’
Then over the wall with our ‘Judaism lite’
We’ll share with their cultures, this ‘salt, leaven, light’.

“But cultures, though blessed, soon just acted their worst
An made the mistake which the Jews made at first,
Instead of ‘salt leaven and light for the rest’ –
‘Come be just like us if you want to be best’.

“Two thousand more years we all churned round like that
But now times have changed, so we need to look back
Our groups are all mixed, and there’s Third Culture Kids
Let’s imitate Jesus whose here in our midst.

“Sub-cultures are blooming wherever we go
Each needing that ‘salt leaven light’ that we sow
Don’t help them be like us, it just doesn’t work
Like us, go for better, and stop being jerks.

“A jerk in my culture is not like in yours
The problems you wrestle for you could be worse.
Apostles go over that cultural wall
Salt leaven and light – not wreck cultures at all.

“But hidden beneath the good will and touch light
Is a problem – our allergy ends in a fight.
That Babel-gift blessing – to slow us all down
Resolves when God’s back as the center of town.

“That’s not going to happen for most, so it seems,
We’d rather continue our own way which means,
‘I win and you lose, let the winner take all,
Just as it has been since the day of the Fall ’.”

So when I think back to the nights at the start
When ‘Frankle’s direction’ I found in the dark
God’s right – nothing’s changed, though an answer I’ve found
It’s ‘almost’ – ‘amenities scattered around’.

I laugh at the forty-odd years to hear this
And pick myself up, look at watch on my wrist,
‘Time flies when you’re having the time of your life –
With wife and two children He blessed all this strife’.