Monday, February 04, 2008

India Part 2

What I Learned About My Own Life While Serving In India
Admittedly, preparing for this trip was a bit taxing. My wife and I often use the analogy of the Israelites accepting Manna from God to describe this season in our lives. I can not say that we live literally from day to day but there are moments when it feels as such. We constantly have to remind ourselves that the Israelites could not save the Manna that God graciously provided for more than one day. This season of our life is teaching us to fully trust in Him for our needs and this has been shown in no better place than our finances. That does not necessarily mean that all of the pressures of living have completely been lifted. Signing up for the trip was much easier than preparing for it. We did not receive as much support as we were expecting from our home church, and three months prior to the trip my wife and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child. Money aside, leaving Dru for two weeks was a difficult decision, but as Seamands states, “…ministers, like good restaurant wait staff, are those who focus on the needs and interests of others, not their own.”[1] God was showing me that perhaps I was selfishly worried about providing for my own family rather than allowing Him to provide and protect them. Who is in total control, me or God?

It is hard to remember the moment when I most felt like a stranger in a strange land. Perhaps it was the process of gathering our baggage’s at the airport, or the actual bus ride to our destination where I was able to see the crowded cities and rural scenic routes. Either way I certainly had the feeling of being a stranger which consequently involved a total abandonment to the will of God. I have always known of the importance of having this kind of experience some time in my life, but I was unaware of exactly how valuable it would be. Even now I am finding it difficult to express in words the impact of the realization of being a stranger in a strange land. All Christians should have a feeling of being in a strange land for we truly are not at home. This sense of abandonment showed me how complacent and comfortable I had become in my own cultural surroundings without giving much thought to the reality of God’s Kingdom and bringing it to fruition here on this earth.

On this trip, many of the comforts of my life were stripped away and it was confirmed to me that my life is filled with wasteful and unneeded items. Simplicity should be the order of my life which is why I intend to implement Richard Foster’s[2] ten simple suggestions towards simplicity. They are:

“First, buy things for their usefulness rather than their status. Second, reject anything that is producing an addiction in you. Third, develop a habit of giving things away. Fourth, refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry. Fifth, learn to enjoy things without owning them. Sixth, develop a deeper appreciation for the creation. Seventh, look with a healthy skepticism at all ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes. Eight, obey Jesus’ instructions about plain, honest speech. Ninth, reject anything that breeds the oppression of others. Tenth, shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the Kingdom of God.”

Through prayer and perseverance I know that God will grant me grace enough to become the sort of person who is able to live to these standards.

To put it quite bluntly, I am a hard headed, stubborn person who many times prides himself on withholding feelings which in turn results in becoming non-present to those I am around. Because of this attitude I tend to be reserved or even withdrawn from fully giving all of myself to people. This trip has taught me that the love of Christ calls for full abandonment of all our senses, feelings and even our entire lives. We can see Christ’s abandonment through His incarnational life and His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. With this example in mind, I found myself being able to live outwardly as opposed to living inwardly. I could fully give and minister to the locals we had traveled so far to be with. In fact, to simply be with them was the entire point. We were not sent to build a house or dig a ditch, although those should be regarded as highly important, we were simply sent to love and be loved as Christ loved. Presence is perhaps the greatest gift one can give to another. Thanking God, I can say with wholehearted assurance that I gave the gift of presence to those I was able to on this trip.

[1] Seamands, pg. 82

[2] Foster, Richard J. Celebration of Discipline. 3rd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1998 pg. 90-95

Thanks for the 2nd installment...hey, where's the photo of mommy and baby buckeye?
There on there way...we both got sick so things are taking a little longer than expected.
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