I knew it would come. It’s the pang of knowing that our “new” is becoming our “normal.” The family of five on a straining motorcycle now only gets a quick glance even though the kid perched in front of his mom can’t see because her lime and scarlet scarf wraps itself around the top of his head like a fallen turban. All you see is his grin. And I didn’t even call Lee Ann to come and watch the painted elephant limp his way home from his moonlighting gig at last night’s wedding. In short, this is becoming home.
The process behind it all is adaptation. It is one of God’s great unadvertised gifts. How is it that our ears have deafened to the blasting horns on the street outside our flat? And why, last Friday when the guy put his hand on the center of my chest to push me deeper into the Metro car so more people could cram into the subway, did I not flinch? We are adjusting; we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
That still doesn’t mean that I’ve made my peace with my process. For the first seven months, it felt like every single day was a box of Cracker Jacks with a surprise inside. Trap doors popped open at every turn: Who would we meet today? What was going to gobsmack us next? ([ˈgɒbˌsmækt] Adj Brit slang ‘utterly astounded’; ‘astonished’—blame my new British friends!). Now there are fewer new things to see. We’re getting used to rickshaws next to Rolls Royces. That means fewer AH-Hah’s are just lying on the surface. We’re listening harder; making our cappuccinos last longer. The better discoveries take a little more time and understanding to coax out of the ground, but they’re still diamonds.
Rah is a recent addition to our church family. We shared an Italian meal last week as he unfolded his East Asian story. Well-educated, he and his wife came to Delhi over fifteen years ago as self-supporting international workers. They work in a local embassy at salaries significantly lower than their educations warrant, but it pays their bills and keeps their doors pried open. Oh, and they only get to make the five hour trip home once every three years.
I wish we could sit down with you and I could tell his story over a slow, hot cup of coffee. At so many points you’d be enthralled. Here are just two. He has made arrangements to have his grave in an island in the middle of the lazy, polluted Yamuna River that winds through Delhi. It reminds him this is now his home. These are his people and his river. He has let go of them. It is now all us.
The other point I brought home from my time with Rah was the hundred year plan he had for his life. He admitted that he knew that he was not charismatic and destined for our noticeable ministry. And when he compared himself with others, it make him sick in his soul. He said, “The only way I could get around it was to develop a hundred year plan for my life. I will not be a Moses, but I can grow a Moses.”
Here’s how it works. “For the first thirty three years I will pray for and look for Moses’ that God will reveal. I do not know when God will reveal them to me. I will pray powerfully to recognize them when God causes our paths to cross. It may be at year one or year 29. I will help them find Christ and prepare them as best as I can.
“It will be that during the next thirty three years of my life, I will serve them. They will be my leaders and I will become their followers. I will wash their car and their clothes, I will pray with them, and I will be their quiet champion.
“During the last thirty three years, I will probably not be around. I will be dead. But I will be at the front of the great crowd of witnesses the wise writer of Hebrews has spoken about. I will watch and pray from Heaven’s distance. And it will be only during that third thirty three years that the impact of my life will become evident. After I am gone.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God…we always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being give over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.”
–St. Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth
Postscript: Rah is working his plan. God has given him a couple developing Moses candidates and he’s right on schedule!