So I spent last week teaching at a conference attended by the most loving, passionate people I’ve ever met. Some of these folks traveled four days by bus—one way—to learn and to enjoy fellowship with others of like mind.
I’ve traveled by bus here too. Believe me—it’s not a pleasure ride. Let me explain:
- The buses here always journey with a mechanic on board. What does that say about the frequency of mechanical failures?
- Landslides occur during the monsoon. If the bus is unable to rumble across the mud, it must sit and wait until the road is cleared. What does that say about the unpredictability of your arrival time?
- The roads are narrow, steep, and windy. Brakes fail. Accidents occur. Let’s just say that I learned how to pray when taking my first bus ride here many years ago.
- The road conditions mean it takes forever to get anywhere. Two years ago we traveled outside the Kathmandu Valley. One stretch took eight hours to cover 120 kilometres. We were traveling in a private jeep which meant we made better time than if we’d been on a public bus. Back home, we’d cover the same distance in about 1¼ hours.
- Public buses have neither bathrooms nor air conditioning.
- If you’ve ever experienced motion sickness and had no access to Gravol, you’ll empathize with villagers who aren’t accustomed to riding in vehicles. They don’t own cars, so they walk everywhere. So, when the need arises to take public transport, their stomachs often can’t tolerate the motion. Those lucky enough to sit by a window simply lean out and heave.
Why do I tell you this? Because the folks who traveled from far flung villages never uttered a word of complaint. They arrived wearing smiles, and those smiles grew day after day. The meeting room fairly exploded with honest-to-goodness laughter and joy during the worship times.
The leader of the group is a paraplegic. After I taught a session about unleashing the power of praise, he told me to read Psalm 103:1 because it’s special to him. It says, “Praise the LORD, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name” (NLT).
This verse has been meaningful to me in the past, but it’s assumed new and more powerful meaning thanks to the opportunity to fellowship with these precious men and women. My life is infinitely more easy than theirs and yet how quickly I complain about trivial things—a lukewarm shower, my car doesn’t have AC, autumn leaves are now littering my driveway and I’ll have to spend time sweeping or blowing them away when I return home, blah, blah, blah.
Perhaps teaching at this conference wasn’t for the registrants’ benefit. Perhaps it was for mine. God’s given me another opportunity to make truth practical. From now on, whenever my inner negative voices tell me I have a right to complain, I will say no. I will choose instead to praise God with my whole heart. I will focus my eyes not on my circumstances but on His strength and beauty and wisdom and kindness, and I will walk out the Truth.
Oh, how I wish I could transport each of you here to experience what I’ve seen and heard and felt. I wish I could share photos and video with you, but protecting these folks makes that impossible. Today marks the beginning of another conference—same teaching material to three times as many registrants as last week’s conference. Maybe God knows I still have more to learn.
Know you are loved.