A 'Narrow' World Never Turns

Editor's Note: Pastor Schorr was vacationing during our Messenger preparation time.  We have enclosed a previous article

from June of '96.

One of the people I have admired most in life was a man who never went to school, could not write his own name, and who didn't even know that the earth turned! Mr. Hsu was the carpenter and mason who did most of the construction on a room we were adding to the house we would rent during our six-year term among the Hakka Chinese, in the little town of San Yi. In the world of books, Mr. Hsu was completely and embarrassingly lost; but surround this man with the tools of his trade—-his hand-saw and his plane, plumb-line and level, paddle and trowel—and he would always prove himself to be an extraordinary craftsman of renaissance proportions. 

The tools themselves were objects of wonder. They looked as if they had come from the Ming Dynasty. When a window sill was too broad, Mr. Hsu pulled from his bag an ancient plane with an ornate, hand-carved dragon's head on the handle, and deftly removed a half-inch of camphor wood from the entire surface. When it came time to trim a quarter-inch from the bottom of a hardwood door (ever try that? Not easy!), Mr. Hsu fished out his trusty handsaw with the Chinese proverb carved onto the handle. A strange looking contraption: it looked like something Noah might have used. "Mr. Hsu," I offered, "Why don't you invest in a good electrical saw?" The old man stared at me in disgust: I had blasphemed! "Because they don't cut straight" he answered, impatient with my ignorance. And then he went to work: a perfectly cut quarter-inch piece of hardwood molding fell from the door in about three minutes. 

Mr. Hsu admired me once in a while, too for the things I knew and could do. My ability to write his name for example. That was something Mr. Hsu himself could not do! One day when he had to sign for a delivery of lumber, he asked me to sign his name. Well, there are several different 'Hsu's' in the Chinese language: "Which 'Hsu' is it?" I asked. He couldn't tell me that. "Just write some of them down and I'll tell you which one." I wrote down the first 'Hsu' that came to mind and showed it to him. "Nope. " I tried another and then another: "that's it!" he exclaimed jubilantly. We both sat back and smiled at each other, happy with our new partnership! 

I was also shocked to discover that Mr. Hsu didn't know the earth turned! I will never forget his question about that subject. He was taking a break with his one cigarette for the day ("my wife won't let me have more than one," he explained), and we were talking about my plane flight from the 'foreign land' when suddenly Mr. Hsu interrupted: "tell me," he asked with a troubled look, "I've heard someone say that when it is daytime here in Taiwan, it is night time in the foreign land—at exactly the same time! Is that true?"

For a few seconds I just sat there, silently stunned by the question! How narrow was this man's world! Finally, I tried to explain about the rotation of the earth and the position of the sun. 

When I had finished, I looked over to see Mr. Hsu staring at me aghast: "So, you think the world is turning, huh?" He looked around at the edges of his world, and I caught myself looking too, and feeling embarrassed at the utter lack of physical evidence form my outlandish theory. 

"How do you know?" he asked. And for the briefest moment, caught up in his perspective of life, I wasn't sure I did know any more. Fortunately, it came to me: "I've been to both lands, " I said. I explained how I had boarded a plane at sunrise in the 'western land', flown twelve hours to the east, and got off to see the sunrise again-which couldn't happen if the earth didn't turn. 

That discussion, and what it signifies, has always impressed me: adopt too narrow a view of your world and great Truths will be lost! 

You know?—I still meet people like Mr. Hsu every day. Oh, they're much better educated of course, but their perspective on life is just as narrow, and just as incredulous whenever spiritual truths are concerned: "You think there's a heaven? C'mon!" "A hell? Get Real!" "You really think Man has a soul? How do you know?" 

Locked into our limited earthly perspectives, much of the Truth of our faith  seems outlandish. But then we meet the One who's "been to both lands", and after knowing and believing Him, we wonder how we ever could have doubted! "I have come from the Father and entered the world, and now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father", Jesus said (Jn 16:28). And He also said: "In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (Jn 14:2).

Don't be too complacent with your self-established, skeptical view of things, dear friend. Someday we will leave the 'narrow world' we know so well and stand before the One who hurled the planets into space with a flick of His mighty hand, and sent the earth spinning on its axis. And you and I will both be saying: "It's True! How could we ever have doubted?"


See you Sunday.                          RAS

Your Ministry of Reconciliation
Because You're a Soldier