There have been so many unusual blessings and small miracles in my adventures in China that frankly, I have become a bit spoiled. It started to seem like everything I need will just turn out to be there when I need it and that we’ll be protected from all the things that can go wrong. What a foolish sentiment in a world of danger.
The other day I was out for a lunchtime adventure on the streets of Shanghai carrying the two possessions I rely on most, a cell phone and an iPad. The iPad was a gift that I first felt was just a toy, but it was one of those things that I urgently need that was just given to me when I needed it, shortly before I came to China (now a much appreciated gift from my kind former boss). The Pleco app on it is a lifesaver in China. I can study Chinese, look up and translate words, and even draw strange new characters to find out what they mean. I use it everyday. But after looking up somoe terms on a Shanghai menu, I forgot to zip up the case I use to protect my iPad. While walking back to work, I tried to be a good husband by calling my wife to report on my exciting new culinary find. And then I tried to be a good Christian when I saw a beggar on the street and determined to do something to help. I stuck my iPad case under one arm while continuing to talk to free up a hand to get some money out. I bent over to leave something for the beggar, and that’s when my now upside-down unzipped iPad case gently released its cargo, allowing my iPad to respond to the Law of Gravity, which somehow was not suspended as a reward for trying to do something good. The iPad then accelerated toward the cement tiles below, which somehow maintained there physical properties and did not suddenly become soft and flexible for my benefit. The aluminum casing of the iPad then rapidly deformed and damaged the most important part of the iPad casing, making three buttons suddenly inoperable: volume, mute, and the sleep/off button, which is also used to turn the iPad on.
Initially it seemed that my iPad was toast. Actually, it still does what I need and I’m fine, though it’s less than it was through my carelessness. The fall of the iPad was a good reminder that we are still subject to all manner of afflictions and disappointments, including those we engineer ourselves.
We must not demand miraculous protection even when doing good. Traffic accidents, injuries of all kind, and even death may strike those who are serving missions, doing home teaching, going to church, helping the poor, or serving God in man ways. There is no guarantee of miraculous protection and never any grounds for relaxing our guard and being casual in how we protect ourselves and our loved ones. It’s a dangerous world and the ground is hard. We must walk in faith, and wear our helmets, keep our insurance policies active, floss daily, and keep our iPads firmly in hand with the case carefully zipped up.