Twenty years ago, Kevin and I accompanied my father on a trip to India, along with Joel and Victoria. We loved India, meeting the people, encouraging the leaders, and teaching the Bible. Yet this trip was the most challenging I’d faced. Going into a foreign country always takes some adjustment, but I wasn’t prepared for what that meant here.
We stayed in a government house that was indeed grand compared to the impoverished sadness we saw even outside its doors: people in rags, begging for pennies. But it is one thing, when you’re young, to think, I will help these people out of their physical and spiritual misery, and it is another to face the reality of living among their conditions.
The government house was simple, concrete, each room equipped with twin beds that had two-inch mattresses, ripped in several places. The worn carpet looked multiple times older than we did. I found myself unable to shower for five days because I felt cleaner than the bathroom and because of our constant visitors: lizards and roaches. Outside our room, lots of cute little monkeys climbed about the trees, but our host warned us to keep our distance as they were dangerous, carried disease, and could be aggressive.
Our surroundings were unsettling to me. We poured ourselves out in ministry, teaching and spending time with the people in the mornings, afternoons, and each night. Then it seemed such a low point to return to our room. For me, there was no rest. One night, we came home to several roaches crawling all over my mattress.
We weren’t eating well either, haunted by so many starving people and with so many differences in the food. We relied on canned tuna and peanut butter that we’d brought in our suitcases, and warm bottles of Coca Cola. Although in one place, we ate fresh fish and wonderful curry at a dimly-lit restaurant, and were especially excited to see apple pie on the menu.
Joel said, “I’ll order a piece and we can see if we like it.” That sounded good to Victoria and me. After eating half the slice, enjoying each bite, Joel offered the other half to us. But when he pushed the plate toward Victoria and me, there was more light on our side of the table. We could see what Joel couldn’t. That slice of pie was full of green, fuzzy mold.
Victoria and I cracked up laughing, incredulous and shocked that Joel had eaten half this piece of pie already.
“Well,” Joel said, grinning, “I just had apple pie a la mold.”
I wasn’t so agreeable on our trip. The first two days all I did was complain to Kevin: “I can’t believe how bad this place is. I don’t think I can make it for five days.” The idea of roaches and lizards crawling over me as I slept gave me chills and made me want to jump up and outside—only there were dangerous monkeys out there. I couldn’t rest.
Finally Kevin said to me, “Lisa, you might as well stop complaining because that is not going to change anything—and we are not going to leave early.”
I hated to admit it, but he was right! So I decided to quit saying I couldn’t make it. Instead I starting saying all day to myself, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. His grace is helping me.”
The night after I challenged myself with God’s promises I truly slept better. Then the next night, I was sleeping like a baby. On the fifth and last night, I woke up and felt the bed swaying back and forth, but fell back to sleep.
Alarmed, Kevin woke me. “Lisa,” he exclaimed, “did you feel that?”
“Yeah,” I mumbled sleepily.
“I think it’s an earthquake!” he said excitedly.
“I do too,” I yawned and went right back to sleep again.
Kevin spent the rest of the night awake, and in the morning, we learned that the tremors we felt in the night were indeed from an earthquake two hundred miles away.
And that is the way God works. When we don’t think we can make it through, he delivers strength and grace to us to get through mold, roaches, lizards, monkeys, even an earthquake.
You, too, can do more than you think. You are made for more. A prayer and a choice to believe in God’s promises will get you there.
Excerpt from “You Are Made For More”, Chapter 12