This encounter happened on a caving trip with my college's intramural outdoor club, and after a full day of exploring underground rivers and banging our heads on the stone ceiling, the other half dozen students (and myself) were taking refuge from the bad weather inside our tent and chowing down on what normal college students eat. You know, instant mac n' cheese. That type of thing.
But not Kevin.
Along with his ostrich, he was also eating salad.
Now perhaps a normal (read: polite) person would have just let him be. But I'm not really that socially acceptable; I'm kinda awkward. So after demanding that he explain the contents of his homemade dinner, I sat there pondering this answer--staring at him while he perused a book entitled "The Maker's Diet."
Me: well, where do you BUY ostrich anyway??
Kevin: Whole Foods
Me: are you reading that book for class?
In my head I have 1000 questions. Are you part of some religious cult?! Does your mom force you to eat this stuff?? Are you doing this as part of your health & wellness class and are desperate to make an A???
I chewed my tongue while considering how else I could phrase the question I was dying to ask. After 5 minutes of silence I burst out "SO WHAT'S YOUR DEAL??" loud enough to make the girl flirting with her peer pause and look over.
Kevin: ...what do you mean?
Me: WELL, you're eating all healthy and reading a nutrition book.
I could see I was not making myself clear. I mean, doesn't this kid realize that what he's doing isn't really normal? He's 19, 20 years old. What kind of college student gives a crap about nutrition? The exasperation on my face must have been hilarious enough to Kevin for him to set down his book.
Then the story came out.
When Kevin was in high school, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. At the age of 15, he was given a few months to live. After experiencing the horrible side effects of chemotherapy, his family explored all other options from experts in various fields, including nutrition and chiropractic. To make a long story short, Kevin pursued a more holistic treatment plan and today is 100% healthy. I seriously doubt he's had as much as a runny nose since.
Over the years I've become pretty good friends with Kevin, and nothing about him has changed (except that he's even more obsessed with health). The thing that stands out about him is how passionate he is about optimum health--for himself and anyone who listens.
I heard a preacher say once "if you want to know what's important to a man, look at his checkbook." *
Well, in my husband's and my case, you might just notice that we're broke. I think a more befitting (but still soul-searching) query might be "if you want to know what's important to someone, look at their facebook."
In Kevin's case--the answer is clear. Practically every post and picture is about health. Pretty much every conversation I have with him revolves around nutrition or exercise. He is going to school to become a doctor and makes a living helping others reach optimum health.
So I had this epiphany the other day when I asked myself the facebook question. People might notice that I love my dogs or am obsessed with travel. But probably not much else.
It was at this point that I realized that I've been a pretty lousy Christian.
I mean, God called us to be DISCIPLES. He didn't say "believe in me, pray this prayer, be a pretty good person and you'll get a ticket into Heaven."
He called us to die to ourselves daily. To take up our cross and follow Him.
I'm ashamed to say that what's supposed to encompass my life had just been a part of my life. That sharing the Gospel with friends and co-workers occurs about as often a solar eclipse. Or that my Savior, the God of the universe was only worthy of a 30 second prayer before meals and a couple hours on Sunday mornings.
I prayed to God to change me. And he has.
But now I need to learn to be more like Kevin. And no, I don't mean I need to learn to develop a taste for birds of unusual size (although everyone can take a page out of his book when it comes to eating right).
I mean that I need to get my priorities in order and be able to talk to people the way Kevin does. He doesn't walk down the street handing out pamphlets, stopping strangers in the street: "excuse me, are you aware that high fructose corn syrup is detrimental to your health?" No, but when you talk to him, the conversation will inevitably lead back to these issues because that's what he's passionate about.
And I feel like many Christians feel compelled to witness to friends and co-workers using a learned script instead of just talking about their own personal experience with the Lord. Does this sound natural:
Co-worker: Hey Logan have you completed the "Security and Awareness Training" yet?
Me: Excuse me, but if you were to die today, do you know where you would spent eternity?
I mean, who wouldn't go running to hills with a question like that? But that's what our culture has become. It's become so taboo to discuss religion that people even feel awkward talking about it with their own families.
Imagine that: what's supposed to be the most important thing in our lives we hardly even talk about.
But maybe we just need to learn to talk about it. So instead of handing our gospel tracts on street corners, we would be intentional about having conversations with those we encounter. I used to think that kind of thing was hard to do, but that was before I wanted to know God better. I mean really desire to spend time with him and in the word. I'm still pretty new at it, but the other day when a co-worker was talking about marital problems, I found it really easy to discuss how my husband and I don't put our hopes and dreams in each other (because that will just lead to disappointment) but that we instead both strive to walk with the Lord more closely--and in doing so have a more intimate relationship.
And maybe the next conversation I can share with him about how God changed my life.
My goal is to be so radically different from what most people consider "normal" that someone will stop me one day and demand "so what's your deal??"
And I'll be happy to tell them.
*and p.s. who even uses checkbooks anymore?