I was talking to my friend earlier this week. She was such an encouragement to me. And I sure hope I encouraged her. She drives somewhere around 45 minutes to get to church. In America, that's a pretty long drive! But it's such a good church! So, we made a deal that neither of us would complain about our drives to church.
The moment the promise escaped my lips, I knew what was coming... Sure enough.
So this evening as we left for church, I remembered the promise I made. I began praying.
You know, God judged more people in Scripture for the sin of complaining than for any other sin? Yeah, I know that statistic, too. But the roads and the traffic here make it soooo easy! On a regular Wednesday night, what would be a fifteen to twenty minute drive without traffic is a 45 minute fight for your life. And today was the extreme.
As we continued down the road (Michaela and me on the scooter and the boys on the motorcycle) we saw some friends ahead of us. I thought to myself, they will be a good focal point for me to follow so I will not focus on the stress of the traffic. Then, traffic came to a standstill. The two lane road became a four lane road as vehicles began to drive on the sides of the street. But even these "new" lanes were stopped. Cars, motorcycles, buses and tuk tuks weaved, twisted, and maneuvered inch by inch until small seams opened up.
Maneuvering the scooter (aka Skooty) was exhausting at this snail's pace. Horns honking... And I just kept saying, "Don't complain... You made a promise." And I whispered a prayer.
Cars and motorcycles were driving on the wrong side of the road causing even greater traffic snares. They were trying to get just a little farther ahead and ended up clogging both directions.
Then it happened. I lost sight of Jason and of our friends. They got ahead as we were trying to dodge a trackhoe. Yes, you have to avoid construction equipment here. There are no safety rules to protect pedestrians or motorists from these machines. And the entire stretch of road is under construction. Some of the potholes from the construction mess could easily throw a biker from their seat if they aren't paying attention.
I knew in my heart what God was doing. He was forcing me to totally depend on Him for victory over complaining. I didn't have friends to follow and focus on. All I had was Him.
My mind went back to when we were in the States. So many times I complained about hitting a single pothole, and now I just praise the Lord that I don't hit the big ones that would cause me to wreck. So many times I use to complain about a traffic jam, and now I am thankful that I am not stopped behind a big black exhaust billowing bus while I am in a jam. Wow, how my perspective has changed.
But the temptation is so strong to complain.
I made it all the way to church without complaining, though I must admit I did sigh a few times when people did really silly things that caused greater jams. I was physically exhausted, emotionally drained from fighting the temptation to complain, and spiritually hungry. The problem was that tonight the message would be completely non-English. I would not be able to understand the service.
When I entered the church, I had three minutes to prepare to play the piano. I really wanted to hear from the Lord tonight, but I definitely had to get my mind off the traffic torture. I played the piano the best I could.
When I took my place on my pad on the floor for service, I was still praying that God would feed me somehow. I needed to hear from Him in spite of the language barrier.
As Brother Levi began preaching, I turned to each Scripture passage he called out... That is all I could understand, but boy oh boy! It was all God needed to help me! The farther he continued in his message, the more encouraged I got!
Mark 8:34 "And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
1 Corinthians 10:13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]."
1 Peter 5:7 "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."
Suddenly, I felt victorious in my battle of complaining about the traffic. I was no longer focused on the noise, the diesel fumes, the rudeness of drivers... I was focused on how my God heard my prayers and was sending me help and guidance! I have no idea what Levi said... I only read the verses he called out, but God used this young man to bring the exact passages that I needed.
Needless to say, the drive on the way home was more pleasant than the drive on the way there... Oh the traffic was still there and I got stuck behind a few big buses... Got cut off many times by rude bikers...
But my focus was on how amazing my God is. He took a sermon in a language I still do not comprehend, and fed my soul simply by making sure I understood the book, chapter, and verse reference.
Well, my friend, I am sure He can give you what you need for you long ride to church. I am praying for you and cheering you on from the other side of the world! Thank you for being such a good friend and encouraging me so much. By His grace, I kept my promise today.