Sunday, June 10, 2012

India, Part IV: The Lessons

It's been a month and five days since we left for India. I feel like I've aged at least a year since that day.

To some leadership is a natural ability (e.g. Jason Tegen). Others cultivate and develop the skills over time. Others prefer to stay behind the scenes. I would classify myself in this latter category though I've sometimes wished I was in the first. With a shaky, short leadership resume, I took comfort in this trip knowing I was following God's leading and not the reverse. I was SURE He told me to take this trip. So all would be absolutely awesome and over the top amazing. The end.

I did not anticipate almost missing planes, being called back off of buses with luggage issues, being terrified on a flight by some men acting very strangely, riding with a crazy driver, standing outside the airport with no welcome committee, our credit card being cancelled, visibly seeing the spiritual realm, scoldings from some nationals and our flights home being cancelled. I didn't think I signed up to lead that trip. I signed up for the over-the-top, everything-goes-perfect one.

And many things did go perfectly. God sent great, teachable girls. They engaged and LOVED the kids. They embraced everything {except the spicy food}. I could not have asked for a better group. We heard incredible stories of God's power on display and saw it a few times up close. We saw what the joy of the Lord looked like through Shampa and her sisters as we laughed hard at their crazy stories. Like Shampa's stories of riding on motorized carts in Walmart chasing her embarrassed husband yelling, "Everyone, that man is my husband." He was truly embarrassed when she ran into a display and knocked EVERY piece of fruit on the floor and all she could do was laugh uncontrollably. Those women have deep joy with a good bit of silliness mixed in. Obstacles and all, the trip was filled with rich lessons.

1. Worship
We learned through stories and first-hand experience that there is power in worshipping God. When His presence comes, the enemy doesn't stay. We met children who had been cursed and couldn't speak who were healed during worship. During a time of apparent spiritual warfare for our group, one of our girls saw the enemy driven back and the rest of us felt it. Worshipping the true God is essential and powerful.

2. Obedience and Trouble-free Living
I arrived home sick in body and disappointed in spirit from all of the trials. I really questioned if I had totally misheard God or somehow finagled a trip out of a growing love for India. As my day and night started matching reality, I started to think clearly and process all that happened. Several times I thought of Jesus warning that in the world we will have trouble and tried to make sense of the mishaps in light of His words. One morning I woke up with the scripture reference John 16:33 ringing in my head. I had no clue what scripture it was and hadn't cracked my Bible in days. When I finally looked, this is what it said: 33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

God did call me to lead the trip. I took my cues from Him. And just as Jesus promised, there were troubles. I, unfortunately, allowed it to rob me of peace {and fingernails}. Obedience is not a get-out-of-trouble card. In some ways, it attracts it to us. Obedience is costly. And although my hair will probably gray a year earlier than it would have, I have learned that circumstances are never meant to be our peace. Jesus is.

3. The Love Well 
When we arrived at Mother Teresa's home and read all about her life, I was convicted. Almost everyone knows Mother around the world as a women who lived and loved selflessly. Truly, the way she lived was remarkable. She lived so radically as to draw worldwide attention. Should not every Christ follower live and love like Jesus did? Instead of being a Christian anomaly, shouldn't Mother be the epitome of the Christian life?

I saved this lesson for last because I've been confronted with the difficulty of this challenge so clearly since being home. Loving others is a favorite thing for Christians to sing about. It sounds all glamorous. 

We will go
Live to feed the hungry 
Stand beside the broken 
We will go

But doing those things, loving those people is NOT glamorous. It's extremely costly of our time, our resources, our wants. If ever I've seen it, it has been since being home. It's easy to love Indian children. At least, for me it is. What is difficult is loving my neighbor two doors away back in America.

When I was in church Sunday crossing my arms and not singing the song, God gave me a picture of my hand scooping water out of a pot that was empty.  My well was dry because I have not been going daily for fresh water from Him.

And before this gets too preachy, I'll just say that I'm being reminded again how God desires a daily invitation to be my leader. For me to take the cues from Him just like I took the cues for this trip. For Him to be the source of all good things flowing out of my life. Even when trouble comes--it will--or when loving is so hard.

He's the leader who has the pressure of leading this thing. And His track record of getting people home is perfect!  

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