by Grady King –
“Who created God?” That’s the sincere question of my new friend, Li., my new friend who sat next to me on a three hour plane ride home from Philadelphia. Li is 30 years old and is from China. He attended the University of Wisconsin and completed his Ph.D in chemical engineering at age 25. He was going to Dallas to interview for a faculty position at SMU. 100 people applied. 10 were interviewed via vid con and only three were chosen for on site visit.
As we got settled in for the three hour ride I asked him why he was going to Dallas. He initially and humbly replied, “For a job interview.” He looked at my sweater and asked if I was a teacher at Oklahoma Christian University—my sweater with logo gave me away. I said that I did some teaching and directed church resources. He asked, “What do you teach? I said, “Bible, theology and ministry.” He smiled, turned in his seat toward me with great interest and said, A friend asked me to go to church in Wisconsin and I have read some of the Bible.” He found it very interesting and puzzling. He then said, “In the beginning God created…” and asked the question, “If God created the world, who created God?” I smiled, took a deep breath, mental wheels turning and before even getting a word out, he said, “When was the beginning?” At this point I was thanking God that the flight attendant broke in to ask, “Something to drink?” Whew! More time to think. After a sip of water, we resumed the conversation. He eagerly awaited my answer. I went down the road of Genesis “assumes” the existence of God and does not give us the answer. He smiled. I tried to shift the conversation to faith and mystery. For a chemical engineer given to logic and analysis, I could tell it was a stretch. He was kind and I was humbled by my inability to find a way to explain what he needed. Then it hit me—I don’t have to explain at this point, simply be honest, listen in humility and encourage him to keep reading.
As the flight attendant said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are on our final approach to Dallas” I gave him my contact information and said, “Let’s stay in touch. Let me know if you get the job and we will have you and your wife over for dinner.” He smiled and said, “I will. I now have a new friend in Dallas.”
I do not know how God will use that conversation. I didn’t expect it when I got on the plane. But as tired as I was, it was humbling and refreshing. And we didn’t even have to have the “Oh, you’re a preacher” conversation, or not.
Ironically, I had just talked to someone that morning at worship about God bringing the world to us and that many Christian people don’t know how to even have a faith conversation. Pray for the opportunity not to give answers we don’t have, rather conversations over time. We’ll see what happens.
“Help us, Lord!”