Saturday, April 10, 2010

Road Warrior Lessons

If you didn't get a chance to hear our live on-air radio interview with Laetitia Gotte who works in Romania with street children who literally live in the sewers of Bucharest, you can now listen to it online by clicking here. Be sure to check out our over 100 programs available on iTunes as well, all for free. Also, take a look at our Christian History Timeline, it gives you a chronological perspective of different events and key figures. We’re not talking here about just a bunch of dead guys but about a truly living history where the Holy Spirit perspective is involved!

While we ourselves are from the US and Laetitia and her cohorts are from France, we somehow found ourselves on the road together for over 4000 miles through numerous countries particularly in Eastern Europe, in a tiny VW Golf packed to the gills with junk, clothes, and food, going night and day with little sleep for weeks on end, while enduring trying to sleep in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable and yet we all are still friends.

Hanging out, ministering together, and doing the interview while Laetitia was visiting here in the US brought back some wild memories from that long and winding road adventure.

One in particular was of an especially rough night. We had already been driving in the little car that day for 8 hours, traversing through the hills of Romania and descending the long straight flat lanes of Hungary when we finally stopped by Lake Balaton for a little break. At that point I thought I had already had as much of sitting in the little car as I could possibly handle that particular day, after weeks and weeks on end of the same activity. And yet, after a little food and walking around, it was back on the road for more fun sitting jammed up to our necks in the little car again.

Ten hours later, after having passed through Slovenia and crossed the border into Italy, we found ourselves in quite the predicament. It was coming upon two o’ clock in the morning and we couldn’t find a place to stay. We’d made the supremely intelligent calculation of arriving into one of the most touristed areas in Europe in the middle of the night in the middle of tourist season and of course everything was full.

Nobody in the car had any strength left to keep going so we finally pulled into one of the most dreadful locations one could imagine for spending the night, an Italian truck stop. Not only were there bright lights shining everywhere giving it the appearance of a border check point – rough memories from earlier in the trip—but extremely loud trucks were constantly coming in and going out and coming in and going out every few moments!!! That, along with the fact that they left their extremely loud generators running with a hideous racket sound going all night long, gave the place the overwhelming feel of something like what sleeping on a busy airport tarmac must be like, a great place to catch a few zzz’s. All I could think while surveying our surroundings for trying to get a bit of slumber in this location was “this looks like all the fun of a root canal without the actual drilling.”

I’d been in that car for 10 hours beyond what I thought I could take that day already, and was not too stoked while realizing this is where we were about to spend the night. We were already exhausted from lack of sleep from the last few weeks already, the last place we’d stayed had six cats that exacerbated allergies and the news of the recent death of my younger brother was not allowing me much sleep either. This is the kind of travel where God really does some stretching on your soul!! No cruise ship tour here bro just hard-core roughing it for the sake of the Gospel.

The final blow came when Laetitia’s brother Nat, who had been driving last, in exhaustion rolled back the driver’s seat right on top of my legs pinning me to one spot, while he immediately fell asleep. Stuck as I was and unable to even move a little to get even the slightest bit comfortable, my flesh and soul were being stretched to the very core at that moment.

“I’ve been in this car 18 hours and I’m not gonna spend another moment pinned here like some rat in a rattrap.” I protested to everyone snoring—all were already fast asleep from road exhaustion—as I opened the car door.

I wiggled my legs out from underneath the seat, while Nat and everyone else snored away, and rolled out onto the cement. A few moments on that cement made it clear that this wasn’t any better.

Finally I spotted a patch of grass at the back of the truck stop and made my way over to it; I fashioned myself a little bed out of some towels and few other things and laid down.
Surely this wasn’t a safe idea, lying out on some grass in the middle of a foreign truck stop; however, it was flat, soft, and wasn’t the car—that was all I cared about at the moment.
I laid down my weary head on some more towels and said, “Lord, what are you putting us through here?”

In that moment I was immediately reminded of a saying from some modern day warriors known as the Navy Seals who teach in their intensive military training: “You can endure ten times the amount of what your mind tells you and what you think you can.” Here I had been ten hours beyond the limit of what I thought I could go that day as the Lord reminded me of this.

The Lord had been having me read some of their stuff recently as preparation for some of the inevitable hardships that come with mission trips and traveling ministry in some of these wild and distant locations and here it was now being applied directly to me.

The Lord then spoke: “You are a warrior and will endure it and grow from it.”
The next thing I knew there was a glorious awareness of God placing some warrior angels to stand watch right over me. I could feel the Lord’s awesome presence in a remarkable way and the presence of His warrior angels as I fell into a much-needed deep sleep.

Though it was only a few hours of rest, the next thing I knew we were getting up and drinking some Italian cappuccinos and heading off for a little tour of the famous city of Venice, which just happened to be close by.

As we walked around the city of Venice that morning, enjoying the sights and sounds of this famed Italian city on the water, I wondered, “Where am I getting this strength to do all this walking after such a night?” and was reminded again, “You can endure ten times the amount you think you can.”

Persevering and enduring through trial and tribulation is something all too forgotten in the shallow pop Christian culture’s message of “Live your best life now” and candy-coated Christianity being peddled in so many places these days.

We sometimes need a little reminder that people like Paul the apostle suffered all kinds of terrible hardships in his quest to preach the Gospel and wasn’t able to just “positively confess” or use trite little sayings to get himself out of the very heavy suffering that he endured at times.

Paul was doing anything but “living his best life now” while choosing to suffer for the sake of preaching and spreading the Gospel of Christ. In actual fact, he had given up “his best life” as a fat cat Pharisee and chose instead to suffer for the sake of Christ’s truth, going often without food or shelter while being hit hard with persecution. (2 Cor. 11:23-29)
He had to learn to persevere, as we all need to do, and to endure through all kinds of trial and tribulation in order to come to that place where his trials were indeed turned to gold.