Yesterday, I was on my way home. Later than I meant, with more bags then I meant to have, and okay, I admit impatient to be home. I walked down the steps of the mall entrance and scanned the jeepneys- the conductors tend to remember me and started shouting “Puan” and pointing at the Talomo jeepney before even asking me where I was going.
I was weary. I was not wanting to squish myself into an already full jeepney, so I argued. “Puno na!” It’s full already, I told him, in a whiney tone that surprised even myself. He looked at me, and I looked at him and we both knew the truth. All the jeepneys at this hour of the day would be this full. People were going home.
I sighed, and arranged my bags carefully, and climbed up to the jeepney’s entrance while bending at the waist to actually fit inside. I looked around the inside of the jeepney, and it looked full to me. Tired, annoyed, and embarrassed that I am bigger than the average MAN in this country I timidly asked, “Asa dapit?” In other words, I had resigned myself to the squishing and was asking what place do I take in this jeepney? I am sure my tone was not pleasant. In all likelihood it sounded quite scared. But it did help me see where I could at least try to fit.
And miraculously like the Red Sea there was a parting, mind you it was not really large enough for my big self, but like I have learned to, I wedged myself best I could in between the man and the woman on either side of me, and held on tightly to the bar on the ceiling. (Have you ever done a wall squat? This position is like doing a wall squat with no wall and most of your weight being held up the arm that is holding onto the bar.)
As the jeepney hurried along the highway it swayed hap hazardly, causing us squished ones to bop up and down together. With each bump our positions changed a little. With each harsh stop there was the fear (well okay I was probably the only one worrying) that we would end up in each other’s laps. (Hey, I have fallen into laps before in this country, it is a legit fear.)
Did I mention I had a coke in one hand? My life seemed to be dangling in the strength of my right arm, and my left hand was trying to not spill on any of the other 20 or so passengers. As I looked around, at my jeepney mates it struck me.
Following God is a lot like getting on a jeepney.
How many times do I argue with God. My schedule is full already Lord. Other people would do a better job. I am not qualified….Over and over again, I say to God, the jeepney is already full there is no room for Your work. I doubt God’s way, I hesitate to obey, to get in to what God has called me to do. (To do what He has commanded me to do.) My eyes limit my faith. I spend my energy guarding my life from His blessings worried that He might ask something of me.
Sometimes, I get angry. I say “Okay God, sure.” I get on the jeepney but in a clumsy state. Stepping on toes, hitting people with my bag, and bumping my head for a grand finale as I fall into my seat. You see, sometimes we follow God but with such a great disdain that in our obedience we are actually acting out of disobedience. Sometimes we put on a show, make a big deal, and clench our teeth the entire way while “obeying” Him.
But then there are times when even though we hesitate because of our better judgment, we climb onto the jeepney and timidly ask, “Where’s my place in your will?” And God answers. And we go. But, please, please, realize that just because you are on the jeepney and willing, just because you have said to God, “Here am I send me.” Doesn’t mean that the way will be easy.
Even though I had submitted myself to the jeepney, the ride stayed bumpy. I still had to juggle my two bags. Hold tightly to the bar. Carefully tilt my head as to not bang it on the unnaturally low ceiling. I was still uncomfortably squished in between two strangers. The way did not get easier just because I complied.
If I had followed my will, and tried to hold out for a jeepney that I could fit into comfortably I would have waiting at the mall well after dark. If I had given up and taken a taxi, I would have missed learning a beautiful lesson about God’s character. If I had taken the situation into my own hands and tried to walk, well I probably would never had made it all the way home.
Getting on a jeepney is like following God, it is your choice to obey Him or not. But do not fool yourself into thinking that there is another way to obey Him. Obeying Him is to sacrifice comfort, to give up control, and to ask “Lord where do you want me?”
And realizing that it does not end with that question; we then actually have to go and take the place the Lord has given us. And sometimes there is not a “Lizzie” size shape cut out in a ministry. Sometimes there is not a perfect volunteer position waiting for you at a church. Sometimes what God is asking us to do seems impossible. (I guess, He wants us to squish.)
But let’s not fool ourselves, it seems that the way is impossible because IT IS. We Americans get in our cars and we go. We drive at our own speed. On our own time. We get mad at red lights, slow drivers, and the occasional hard to find parking space. We proclaim loudly that with God all things are possible, but secretly we wonder how much He actually is doing. Quietly we guard our comforts and call them necessities. Carefully we avoid giving up the driver’s seat of our lives.
Now obviously, I am not telling you to all go out and sell your cars. Although I am very thankful I did. It has taught me a dependence on the Lord that is so sweet that following Him seems to hurt less. (And in case you are wondering if it should hurt…”for I have been crucified with Christ”…does that not sound a little painful to you?)
I am simply drawing a parallel, to ask you where are you placing your dependence? And to challenge you- are you brave enough to ask God, “Where do you want me?” And braver still, to obey with the full knowledge of the loss of comforts?
Dependence on Christ is holy. It is not weak. It strengthens faith, and where faith is… hope blossoms. Where there is hope there is an outpouring of love that is called grace.
May grace be so abundant in our lives that in humility like that of Christ Jesus we faithfully offer it to others.