“No, no, no!” I fussed at the driver while wiping the perspiration from my brow. “This isn’t acceptable. You must explain to the mechanic who we are and how important it is that we’re on time. The van needs to be fixed in less than an hour, no more.”
Reluctantly the young man walked away at a pace much too slow for my liking. I didn’t care how hot it was, couldn’t he move more quickly? Didn’t he understand the situation’s urgency? Disapproving, I turned to update the others. Without air-conditioning, the temperature inside the van soared as quickly as my frustration. No longer did anyone appear or smell freshly showered.
“It doesn’t look promising,” I began when suddenly I couldn’t believe my eyes. “What do they think they’re doing?” I bellowed while quickly turning and exiting the van. I marched toward the men at a pace the young man needed to learn. Sitting under a palm tree, they sipped tea, laughing and discussing the van.
Back in those days I was a super spirit-filled Christian. Problem was the spirit was self-righteous pride and arrogance. That day I was so spirit filled that it over-flowed. I even challenged God. After all, he should’ve known better then to let this happen to me. I willingly volunteered to sacrifice when others on the leadership team wouldn’t. My group would be the first white people to visit this region, let alone present the Gospel. The least God could do was provide save travel and comfortable weather. My tears didn’t persuade God to hurry things along.
Two hours later the van was ready. Soaking wet, I wanted to turn back. Pride argued we couldn’t arrive that late. Besides who would be there? The others voted to at least try, so we did. I sat in the back perspiring and pouting. We traveled another hour on the bumpy, dusty dirt roads of this foreign land.
Finally approaching the cluster of mud and straw huts, we spotted a block building with music and singing coming from within. Several men carrying refreshments rushed outside to greet us. I was stunned. “We’re three hours late and they’re offering us refreshments and a place to rest? What about the people waiting all this time in the heat?” My questions just tumbled out of my mouth in disbelief.
Smiling one of the men answered, “They’ve been singing praises to God and thanking Him that you were coming. They’d wait three more hours gladly. So please, honor us and rest first.”
Turning to the others I muttered, “Five minutes tops, we’ve got equipment to set-up.”
Lifting the black cases, we walked inside toward the reserved folding chairs. The congregation, seated on the floor, continued singing. The band consisted of the local Pastor’s three sons. The thirteen year old played a small keyboard. In the states, his keyboard sells for less than $20 in a toy store. A ten-year-old played bongos and a seven-year-old played tambourine. Faithfully, with no music training, for hours the boys replayed the same songs with toy-like instruments.
I realized we were about to overwhelm those boys with our full-size professional Yamaha keyboard. I couldn’t wait to see the look on their little faces.
Traveling home, I reflected on their awestruck eagerness to touch the keyboard ever so reverently and I bragged about the new vision we’d given them… a glimpse of the great big real world. We had challenged them to work hard so they too could study music and buy a full-size keyboard, and of course, a generator.
Through the years, I’ve remembered those boys and the blessing we were to them. I’ve prayed that they’ve worked their way out of that village, following our example, and are sacrificially serving God.
Finally, God stopped me in the middle of my love-fest to set me straight. He didn’t send me half-way across the world just to teach but also to learn. Those boys served God in a way that I wouldn’t… willingly they did whatever He asked, even without the right equipment, training, or circumstances. Ouch. “…To obey is better than sacrifice*…”
Performance was my song. Obedience was theirs.
I’m changing my tune.
[i]*“But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”[/i] 1 Samuel 15:22 NIV
©March 14, 2007
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