Life among the pagodas
We rode our bikes till the mud was impassable. Then, we walked. We followed jungle trails that seemed to wind into nowhere. I recall crossing a stream by climbing a tree situated next to the river. We were trekking through the heart of the jungle, it was fearsome, and beautiful.
During my time in Myanmar, sporadic illnesses, difficult transitions, and ethnic conflict have caused some to doubt the wisdom of returning to such a ‘dangerous place.’ I met someone a few weeks back who works in a really difficult setting. The setting this new friend works in makes my previous difficulties seem like living in Disney Land. He works in a similar jungle, but his is filled with land mines and hostile troops who daily threaten his safety and the safety of those whom he serves. I won’t go on about how awesome he is, but the thing that struck me most was that he didn’t seem to think it remarkable what he does. He sees himself as merely obeying God in his particular circumstances.
He spoke of how following Jesus means giving up our rights for the sake of others, to the point of pain and death. He pointed to his own weakness, not his strengths, and above all he pointed to Jesus as the hero in his story.
I want to win the battle and get the glory, but the battle is not mine and glory is not mine. We are God’s spoils of war, recovered from the darkness and changed from enemies to heirs.
We are not the heroes in this story, but we do have a role, and it’s to make plain by our lives that there is a victor and hero who conquered our disobedient souls and made us his brothers.
As I wound my way further into the jungle, my heart betrayed me and in the blink of an eye, “Isn’t this amazing!” changed to “Aren’t I amazing for being here!”
Just as I was considering my adventurous exploits, a lady of about sixty passed me on the trail, she was carrying a large bundle of firewood. She entered her house beside the trail, and suddenly my pride came into focus. “I have been thinking of myself as some great explorer, but to this lady, I’m merely a lanky stranger wandering though her yard.”
Jesus is the hero in all our stories, and there is no path we walk that he has not walked before us.