Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thailand Part III: The first follower of Jesus in the village and when you let Christ lead

I felt like we were riding to meet a queen that day when the cloudless Thai sky scattered beads of sweat across our foreheads in that crowded van there.
I felt privileged, honored, humbled, all of it.

Because we were on our way to the home of the first woman to attend the church in that fishing village the Lord had brought us to.
We were on our way to a woman with a story that I would count in my mind's hall of faith.
I think back to earlier days when I savored the wonderful book Not a Fan 
 and I think to myself, I could have just watched her life and known what it means to be a follower. She is the real thing.

This woman, she once owned several bars, and several of the bar girls, and was doing well in her business,
but oh how merciful it is when Jesus breaks our business for His blessings, for His grace.
She accepted Christ, and she did just what Jesus told the rich young ruler to do--
she sold her bars,
she freed her bar girls,
and she now sells rice and smoothies out of her humble home for $10 a day,
provided she can work that day, because she has arthritis that makes it difficult to chop mangoes and stir rice.

Talk about really following Jesus.

Do Americans even do things like this for a Savior? I thought to myself, and asked the chilling question, Would I do something like this?

After a time of following Jesus like this, this poor woman became discouraged.
The pain didn't cease, the times did not grow easier, and she had contracted the kind of defeat that paralyzes a believer from coming to church for a time.
Do I blame her?

The pastor, he asked that we would sing to her, enthused at the idea.
I wondered how our voices, this small token of love, would seem to a woman who knows a love so great she was willing to give up money, jobs, and comfort for it. How could our untrained voices bless such a woman?

Still, we packed our sticky selves into her one bedroom home, pushing out the space taken up with humid air and sadness with voices proclaiming God's love in song. Strums of the guitar and words of truth drew tears from her eyes as she stood there, so small, donning an apron and the sweetest smile of appreciation I'd seen.

Afterwards we prayed for our sister.
We prayed the kind of prayer that changes you,
transforms you,
gives you a taste of how invested Christ is in her renewal and makes it the sweetest burden, the most fiery flame of compassion.
Tears framed every eye in the room, furrowed brows crowned each forehead and fervent words were carried as whispers while the pastors wife prayed aloud in Thai.

When eyes were opened, to my surprise, the Thai students who had been sitting and observing all the while were crying themselves, abandoning the Thai cultural norm to withhold emotion. Still in shock and awe at how God had moved, I asked my Thai sister why tears flowed, and she struggled to find the words. She managed to say that she had never seen anything like it, where people cry like that, pray like that for a stranger.

That was the treasure right there-- the opportunity to tell her Who was the one behind such deep feelings, to tell her Who produced such love.
In that moment of deep prayer, I did not think for a second of how it would look to those Thai we were ministering to;
I didn't think how odd it might seem that I was praying aloud, or that I was crying for a woman I had just met--
it was simply Jesus.

That is when the treasure is found,
when our intentions, our dignity, our claims to pride-- they're all lost before a Savior.
And that's when He shines brightest
and we taste the endless treasure of eternity.
What a treasure, to unknowingly be a part of the display of the love of Christ.

So lost in Him that He is all that is seen.

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