Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: PICNIC - deadline 7-12-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/05/12)
TITLE: Your Inner Picnic
By Hiram Claudio
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I was on a missions trip to a country in the southern part of Africa. Many different teams were also there working with the same organization. Some were teaching in a local bible college. Some also taught in pastoral seminars for local church leaders. Others were working in a nearby orphanage. We had different responsibilities but one goal, to be a light to God’s people.
We also had something else in common. All eleven of us were staying in the same house. It was a home built to house multiple ministry teams and eleven was its capacity. I enjoyed the feeling of teamwork and gathering with everyone at the end of each day for supper, to unwind, and discuss what the Lord had done that day. It really had a very informal, easy, close feel to it.
Then the power went out. I was told that happens a lot. In fact, the first few days I was there, it went out twice. However, each time for only about three hours. So when the power went out, during the second week, a few days after we had reached full capacity … I just figured it would be back on shortly.
The power went out just after breakfast. We all left to attend to our responsibilities and figured that when we returned, it would be back. We figured wrong. That night we had supper by candlelight. I was truly impressed by the spirit present. It was starting to become annoying, and inconvenient. But everyone was determined to stay focused on our mission, to be a blessing! Our house leader would state often, “The power being on or off is outside of our control. Our attitude about it is completely within our control.”
As we sat down for supper the next day, ending day two without power, the level of inconvenience grew. You see, not only did this affect the electricity but since all the running water worked off pumps, there was not water for anything. No sinks. No showers. Nothing! And with eleven of us reaching the end of day two without any of these things, well … it started to get interesting.
But the spirit of the group stood firm. We weren’t there to enjoy the many conveniences we often take for granted back home. We were there to encourage God’s leaders, bless His people, and to let them know they are not alone. The lack of running water made our close quartered surroundings feel even … closer. Yet, each night we still gathered for supper, still rejoiced over what the Lord had done that day, and still enjoyed the fellowship of being together. That second night, we even threw a few logs into a wood burning stove and toasted marshmallows!
Just before the end of day three, the power returned. So that night, we had supper as we had done before, very little changed. With the power out, some concerns had become heightened. And by day third, those concerns turned to the freezers that contained the food which had been purchased for our stay. And clearly, everyone was VERY glad to take a shower again!
Things changed, then, they changed back. Life is like that. So many things in the course of any given day move from “the way you want them to be” to “the way you don’t.” But, our Lord has promised us a power that isn’t dependent on those changes. He gives His presence, providing a true constant within us. Things on the outside may rise one day and fall the next. And when they fall, they may stay fallen for some time. Yet, Jesus remains a true anchor, a steadying and stable influence.
The experience was certainly no picnic. It went from almost ideal, to potentially unmanageable very quickly. Thankfully, we were able to remain steady because our focus was on our Savior. Jesus said, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” – Matthew 15:11 (NKJV). Our joy doesn’t have to be tied to the many outside influences we experience. We can have a peace deep within that can rise up and flow out, changing the perception of any situation we encounter.
It was a living example of “…He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” – 1 John 4:4b (NKJV).
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