Thursday, April 03, 2008

Give a Little Ground

One of the biggest adjustments to life in Zambia is that often things don’t go as planned. Actually, its not so much that things don’t go as planned, as much as it is that they often don’t go as planned and nobody seems to really care! Life here sort moves along like at its own seemingly unconcerned pace.

For instance, when you schedule an electrician and he tells you he will come at 9 in the morning, he may show up two days later with no explanation and may even express total dismay that this would strike you as odd. I suppose the notion being, that “in the morning” really was meant to indicate “some morning” and not necessarily “tomorrow morning.”

Or, for another example, the other day I was at the grocery store and was thrilled when I walked up to the check-out and found that there was not a single person in line. Surely, I thought, I will be out o’ here faster than a safari guide can point out the many uses of elephant dung (which is quite fast, by the way).

It was not to be, though, due to the fact that the checkout girl was busy flirting with the bag boy. Now, I know that as a minister, I should be constantly concerned about whether or not people are going to heaven or hell (and mostly, I really, really am!). But what I noticed in the minutes that followed (and please - pray that the Lord will forgive me) was that I began to care less and less about where this cashier would spend her eternity because it started to seem as though mine would be spent standing in line to buy some apples and a can of shaving cream (which I was not planning on using in conjunction with one another in any way – in case you were wondering).

And I have noticed, that if I’m not careful, in situations like these, grace can tend to get away from me. (I know you find that hard to believe, but its true!).

Grace, is that wonderful thing that Jesus so abundantly showed (and continues to show) to us – when he died for our sins, every one of them, without waving them around and shouting about them and telling us what idiots we were for not being more obedient. He simply stood silently, and took the abuse that He didn’t deserve, and the insults of people whom he could have squashed, so that he could give us what we could never earn. And yet somehow, still, when people don’t meet my expectations, and when things don’t go my way, I often don’t want to show them any grace at all. I want to show them wrath. Yes…even the wrath of Jerry.

I want them to know that they have let me down, and I want them to know that they are inefficient and that they should invest in a calendar or a watch or a sundial or something. And here in Zambia I often find myself needing to be reminded, that every day of my life the very ground I walk on, is the ground of grace. The very fact that I have something solid on which to stand, is an act of grace, because I ought to be sunk in the deep mud of my own failures. And so, rather than kicking up a bunch of dust over little things like late electricians and overly friendly cashiers, I ought to share a little of that ground called grace with everyone I meet.

Its so easy to see the fallacies of people, and yet to overlook the challenges from which those fallacies usually flow. People most often are who they are, because of where they come from. And yesterday, a drive through the shanty compounds of Livingstone reminded me that in my 5 pairs of shoes, air conditioned, ipod-ed, well-fed world, I really know nothing of the challenges that Zambians face. And as I consider that, I am reminded that Zambians are probably far more deserving of my grace, than I am of theirs. And yet THEY seem to offer it in abundance.

We’ve put together a little video that does very little to convey the severe poverty of life in the Zambian compounds, but perhaps it will give you a glimpse into that world, and a little peek at the joy (and grace) Zambians seem to have in the middle of it all. So, as you watch this, please pray with us for those who live without running water, without electricity, without enough food, that the Living God would walk among them, and that He would meet their every need – above all they could ask or imagine.

And, don’t forget to give a little ground yourself today.


Joy said...

Wow...That's about all I can say. I cannot wait to see these beautiful Zambians face to face. Love you guys! You're constantly in my prayers.


Emily Johns said...

Hey you two! Enjoyed reading your blog so much...Jerry you have a real gift for writing! I hear your "culture shock"...don't worry it WILL pass. However, the culture shock of a new baby is liable to last for a LONG, LONG time! Seriously, how is it going?
You guys are welcome here any time! Emily Johns