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What abandon looks & feels like

Here in America, with a standard of living that is better than 99% of the planet, we struggle to move from self-sufficiency to dependence on God.  Most of us don’t even begin to see how far we’ve got to go.  Strip away our comforts and entitlements and we scream and gripe.  But if …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Here in America, with a standard of living that is better than 99% of the planet, we struggle to move from self-sufficiency to dependence on God.  Most of us don’t even begin to see how far we’ve got to go.  Strip away our comforts and entitlements and we scream and gripe.  But if we are ever to get a place where we are wholly God’s we must submit to a process of abandonment. If you haven’t gone through it, you will struggle with issues of comfort and “your rights” your whole life and you will never truly be wholly God’s.

And even as we go through it, we are to be forgiven for responding as Job did. It’s hard to see a stripping process as a gift.  Last April, I shared Tammy Peters’ blog on this issue.  The struggle is especially acute for her because she has come from privilege. As a software executive (and model for Lexus commercials), she gave up her condo and Jaguar to go on the Race. 
 
Her team has been in India the past month.  Her blog shows just how painful it can be.  And most of us respond to this by echoing one of the commenters, “Dude, get out of there!” 

We say that because we have the option.  What do we say to our Indian brothers who live this way all the time?  And what do we say to ourselves as we pray, “God, I want to be all yours; remove anything that stands between us”?  Here’s Tammy as she wrestles through it:
All 25 of us are staying in a concrete house in dirty, old bunk beds with mattresses that are as soft as wood. It is an unusually uncomfortable 90 degrees at night and about 110 degrees during the day with 100% humidity. (last night I found one of my journals with mold on it!) I have never been so consistently hot in all my life. We drip sweat nonstop. Our only relief is the fans we have on constantly. That is, when the electricity doesn’t cut out. 
 
Sometimes we run out of water, like the other day.   We went without water for 2 days. Imagine 25 of us sweating and smelling like spicy dung (their food smell comes out of our pores) and no showers. We can’t wash clothes by hand. (no washers here) The toilets don’t flush and a majority of us are adjusting to the food. (If you know what I mean) The smell is less than pleasant. The dishes can’t be cleaned, so they stack up and the clumps of leftover food start to reek. A great time for the insects! Ants race in orderly lines along the walls, mosquitoes and huge flying ants welcome us in every room.  But wait there’s more, my all-time-favorite… MICE!
 
We females can’t go anywhere by ourselves, must be with at least one guy and a girl. We must be covered from shoulder to toe. No sleeveless shirts and only long skirts to the foot, to show ankle is like being topless, apparently. Did I mention the heat here? Private time is only found in the bathroom. (less the mosquitoes) When out on the town, people stare at us as if we have three heads. No matter where we look they are groups of them whispering and staring!!! They seemingly don’t believe in litter control. There is trash EVERYWHERE! The cows like to chew on it though, so I guess it’s good for something…  
 
We find a rickshaw man to bicycle us to anywhere with air conditioning and hope he speaks a little English. The streets are covered in filth and poop. Not a day goes by that I don’t see men and beasts (namely cows and water buffalo) defecating in the streets. There is no such thing as a smooth road. I am very conscious of keeping my mouth closed during the trip as crunching dirt in my teeth is deeply unsavory. We are constantly watching our steps. One false move could land us in a rancid ditch of green sewage.
 
When we make it back home I can’t wait to get to somewhere familiar and with potential solace. My bed. The other night I was trying to solve the mystery of gritty dirt on my bed. (the only place I have that is close to serenity) I brush it off in the morning and at night it reappears! I feverishly searched the surface and finally discovered it. .   . Mouse poop! All around my pillow and at the foot of the bed. I LOST IT! Yep, that’s right, lost it! God, why am I here, What are you doing? Why!?
 
Among the physical challenges there is a spiritual oppression I can’t fully explain. It is like when you can tell what kind of mood someone is in. They don’t have to say anything, you can just sense it. That’s what it’s like here. We can sense a spiritual heaviness. Many of us are having a hard time sleeping and getting to sleep. Some had visions of bombings before we even knew there were bombings here in Delhi.
 
I had a conversation with a very spiritually insightful man the other day. When I voiced some of the concerns we have here and my exasperation, he said we are like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Bible who were thrown into the fiery furnace. They didn’t deserve to be in there and probably questioned God as to why they were in there. Clearly, not a fun place to be, but God protected them and not even a smell of smoke was found on them. I asked, what did it benefit them to be in the fire? He answered maybe it wasn’t to benefit them but for God to use them to benefit others around them. Which is certainly true in the story (Daniel 3:1). It gave me a better outlook on my life here. I have dedicated my life to furthering what God wants to do in and through me. Which is a major purpose of this trip. Not what I want, but what He wants.
 
God has truly protected us in every occasion on this race and I know He will continue to also. Please be patient with me, I’m still working through this. It is hardest to see the purpose of a trial when smack dab in the middle of it… I do hope that this is encouraging to you. 🙂
 
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. . . . Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”   II Corinthians 4:8, 16
 

Tammy and her team left India for Thailand this past week and she has come through this time like a champ. Her next blog shows what she’s learned.

Comments (5)

  • i want to come ,i want to come. so Lord will you start showing
    me my whinning ,complaining, gripping,unthankfulness ways
    more clear here.all i can do is repent Lord one more time.i repent.im sorry.

  • Time and time again, I am reminded of my first response to everything; “What am I getting out of this?”. Never does it occur to me that what I am going through isn’t about me at all. I say that I am the Lord’s, but most oftenly I respond as though He is mine.

    Lord, give me a heart of loving obedience that does your will with no concern for my own gain. I want to be free to be used by you for the benefit of whomever you choose. And I am free to lay down concerns of self, because I know that you love me more than I could ever love myself. You will give me all my heart’s desires and more, when I give myself completely to you without agenda. You are amazing! What god is like you?!

  • I feel positively guilty when I get home from mission trips…for me it’s a short term trip to serve…for the people I’m serving, it’s real life. Sadly, these people are often far better followers of Christ than I am. I think the heaviest burden a human can carry is the stewardship of wealth. Matthew 19:24 “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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