I woke up in the morning, worked hard for eight hours, went home and rested, and fell exhaustedly into bed. Every day was just the same as the day before. I began to wonder what was my purpose in life? “I will do the same things tomorrow and even ten years from today, I’ll be doing the same stuff,” I thought. At last I had found the life which I had always dreamed of; a good job with a high paying salary, a small but nice apartment, a brand new Suzuki Samurai, and my own freedom. Before long, I realized that none of these things actually could satisfy and fill the big empty holes in my heart. In fact, the more I enjoyed my possessions and this life I had created, the more my heart grew dry and cracked.
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At lunch time, Mariko would put her Bible on the table and read it quietly. At the same time, I put my cigarettes on the table, and blew big circles of blue grey smoke into the air quietly. We were like water and oil; two opposites, made of different substances, I thought. We sat next to each other so if I were to reach out for her Bible, I could touch it easily. But the distance between her Bible and my cigarettes seemed as wide a gap as across a far and broad river.
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Shortly after I had gotten to know Mariko, I realized that my “mission” to make her doubt her “god” would be unsuccessful. Mariko was always kind to me, and I was attracted by her personality. Even if a Christian Believer tells the truth, if their motivation is not based on love and compassion, it would just be a loud cymbal. While the Christian should proclaim the Gospel of truth and God’s Word, if she hits someone over the head with the Bible, no one’s heart would be opened.
But Mariko was not a loud cymbal. She was a strong Christian who stood on God’s truth, but she didn’t have the stink of hypocrisy. Mariko always had a smile on her face and exhibited a quiet spirit. She never told me about Christianity or her beliefs without showing compassion for my lostness. She never used the Bible as a sharp weapon to condemn me for my guilt. Rather, she showed Christ’s love through her unspoken loving manner. Whenever I was close to her, Christ’s beautiful fragrance surrounded her. Mariko was definitely not an ordinary, typical young woman like all my other friends. Through her gentleness, I could see something firm and strong about her personal convictions.
Gradually, I wanted to know why she was so calm, gentle and kind to others. What was Mariko’s secret for the reasons her life seemed so peaceful?
I became very curious about her faith in Christ. Why does she pray in Jesus’ name? Who is God? Why does Mariko believe in Jesus? What kind of book is the Bible? I had one hundred questions for her, but I could not ask her. I thought that perhaps the Christian religion is good for Mariko, but it would not be good for me.
However, one day she asked me if I had ever read the Bible. I told her that I had never. The very next day, she gave me a Bible in Japanese. I didn’t know why but when I took the Bible from Mariko’s hand, I felt that I was touching something special, something different from a common book. Maybe this book would actually give me answers to my life questions or offer solutions to satisfy my emptiness? Could I discover the reasons I had needed to go through that dark, dark tunnel when I was fifteen?
It was my very first time to open the Bible, and I put the date in my Bible.
″真理ちゃんから. １９８９年４月１7日″. “From Mariko, April 17, 1989”.
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Exactly twenty-eight years have passed since I received from Mariko my first Bible. Surely God’s intricate plan is much higher and much deeper than we can comprehend. I had no idea on that day that I would become a Christian, meet an American missionary later in Japan, and get married in America, and that God would create of us a Christian family. Nor did I anticipate that I would ever share my testimony on an English blog some day!
But my story is not ended! Although I have had to walk many kilometers of life’s bumpy roads, my story continues …
My previously posted testimonies (in chronological order)
The Hot Summer — “The cicadas were too loud. The sky was bright and blue. The white cloud looked like a sofuto crimu (cold ice cream). It was a typical hot summer morning in the August …”
The Incense — “My Father’s shonanoka (The Buddhist service held on the sixth day after cremation) came. A Buddhist monk came to my house to read a special Buddhist chant sutra for my father’s spirit …”
The Lullaby — “An unusually quiet morning … no bustling city noises, only a hushed stillness. I opened the curtain. No wonder I didn’t hear any sounds this morning …”
The Ephemeral Cherry Trees — “I breathed deeply. The soft spring air touched my cheek gently and tenderly. The rows of cherry trees were in full blossom …”
The Farewell — “Six months had passed since the four of us moved to this house. I liked our new house, particularly our tatami room (room with dried rush straw mat flooring)” …
The Illusion — “With the passage of time, the seasons were revolving around and around again. The hand of the clock was both cruel and merciful, and nothing could stop the ticking away of my life …”
The Beautiful Feet– Part One — “Japan experienced a time of rapid change called the Koudoseicho-ki (the period of Japan’s powerful economic growth) between the mid-1950s to the early 1970s …”
The Beautiful Feet – Part Two — “I didn’t hear the sound of the footsteps, but the Beautiful Feet were walking towards me long before I was born …”