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Live from Romania (2)

One of the neat things about traveling somewhere new is noting how things in the place you are visiting are different from where you live.  Since my last post touched on a few of the similarities between Romanians and Americans, I wanted to say something here about a few of the differences I’ve observed.

Every day Janice and I go walking in the downtown area of the city of Oradea.  We’ve been here six days and have seen very few SUV’s and not a single pick-up truck!  (I'm thinking trucks might be indigenous to the southern part of the U.S.).  Most of the cars we’ve seen in Oradea are quite small by our standards.  However, Romanians compensate for the smallness of their cars by driving fast and aggressively.  On the few occasions we’ve been in a vehicle, I’ve noticed they drive in a more freestyle manner.  For example, their driving lanes seem less defined that what we’re accustomed to.  On many streets, cars are parked on the sidewalk parallel to the street and sometimes at a right angle.

Romanians seem fine with all of this.  The pedestrians (and there are many of them), are as aggressive as the drivers.  They walk fast and no one greets anyone or even makes eye contact.  This lack of eye contact carries over to crossing the street.  They always use the crosswalk, but many of them make no eye contact with the drivers of oncoming cars.  They just step right out into the street as if to say, “There are three lawyers in my family.  I dare you to hit me.”  (Note in the picture above that the van didn't didn't stop until the crosswalk was cleared ---  it only paused only until the young lady and boy were out of its path. Then it roared by causing the boy to look back because he's young and hasn't learned how appear indifferent in the midst of speeding vehicles). I mentioned all of this to our host Vasile, who preaches with the church here, and he said with a smile, “They are walking by faith.”

I hadn’t thought of it that way, but they are walking and faith is involved --- so I guess it works.  There’s a part of me that wants to protest that walking by faith doesn’t mean being presumptuous, acting in such a way as to needlessly endanger yourself (Matthew 4:5ff).  And there’s truth in that, but it needs to be balanced with the larger truth that life (by God’s design), is inherently risky.  Therefore, to have as our primary goal a risk free existence is a false and misguided one.  Our aim is not to live a life of security, but to live a life of faith.  And faith sometimes takes us into the unknown and risky.

Abraham didn’t consult with a travel agent when God called him, he just went.  The priests had to step into the Jordan River before the waters would stop. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn't know if their refusal to worship the image would lead to their death or not.  Barnabas took a big chance sponsoring Saul in the church at Jerusalem.

Risky behavior?  That’s certainly one way of looking at it.  Or, you could view it as people who weighed their options, counted the costs, and decided to throw their lot in with God --- completely.

How do you look at it?

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