“Lord, you’ve got the wrong person! I can’t do this!”
The room is barren, the smell is strange, the bed is hard, and the windows have no screens. No clock, no television, a small shadeless lamp reveals the cracks in the dirty walls. A frameless picture of Jesus praying in the Garden hangs above the bed, slightly off center and stained from age.
“Lord, I’ll do whatever you want from my desk at home, but I’m not the right person for this! I want to go home!”
A familiar voice in the hallway, quick plans for an early wakeup are made, the door shut and locked for the final time. The light is out. The silence is deafening. Sleep is illusive.
“Lord, what is the purpose of all this? Please send me home. I don’t belong here!”
The smell is pungent; it is difficult to breathe. What is it? Curry? For breakfast? Or is it sweat from the early spike in temperature and humidity? What is it? What a rude awakening!
“Lord, my heart! I’m so critical like it’s all about me! Father, do something with my heart!”
Four flights of concrete stairs. The suitcases are cumbersome! The lobby is filled with people waiting to see the Americans. The children laugh. Do we look that funny? Oh, the smell! Is it possible to eat with the smell?
“Lord, help me to ignore the smell and fill my emptiness this morning. Help me be grateful, not critical.”
The strange-looking buffet is ready. How do we handle the appearance of the food and the overpowering stench? Rice for breakfast? Oh my! What is that black thing? A bug? Is it dead? What happened to my appetite? The bread looks innocent enough. A warm bottle of coke helps wash down its desperate dryness.
“Lord, You’re teaching me something. Help me learn quickly. I feel so out of place here. I’m hungry! Can I please go home?”
Back on the bus alone with my thoughts. The mud huts, the grass roofs, the swollen-bellied children, the women walking with wooden bowls on their heads, the old men sitting beside the road as if their only purpose in life is to contemplate each vehicle that passes by.
“Father, I feel You near. You’re showing me something. Open my eyes, Lord, please! Don’t let this day be wasted. As long as You’re here, I’m not so all alone. I can do this. I want to do this, Lord, for You!”
The ride is long. The bus is small and crowded and hot. Look! The mountains are surely a glorious display of God’s artistry. Is that a monkey in the road? What is that up ahead? Men, women, and children dancing? A spark of joy. Rejoicing is contagious!
“Lord, help me overcome myself! Surely the joy of the Lord is my strength. Help me, Lord! I want to know this joy I see!”
Oh my! This is a church? Mud held together with poles, rough cut wood benches splayed on the dirt floor. The singing, oh how glorious! The leader, the congregation’s echo, hands raised, eyes fixed on heaven, tear-filled eyes … surely the presence of the Lord is in this place. Dark faces are brilliantly aglow with “joy unspeakable and full of glory”.
“Lord, surely You are their only possession. They know You like I never have. Are you my only possession, Lord? Can I possibly experience such joy? I fall so short … I’m not worthy, Lord!”
As if carefully choreographed, worshipers file out the narrow doorway into the dry and dusty street. Sidewalk merchants point. Children peer out from their houses. Curious onlookers stop. A taxi drives by sounding its horn as if to join in the chorus.
“Oh my God and my King! Surely You are more than enough for me as you are for these people. Forgive me, Lord, for taking so long to understand. This is abundant life!”
The ribbon is cut and the newly dug well gushes out. Water in the midst of this parched land where little is much and nothing is taken for granted. Children dance in the overflow. Mothers and fathers rejoice in their children’s transformed future.
The missionary steps to the front with Bible in hand; the interpreter close by. “We know that we have passed from death to life…” (1 John 3:14 NIV)
“Yes, Lord! That’s it! Go ahead and speak through me; speak to me! Yes, Lord, I have passed from death to life...”
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