Driving in Kenya is a challenge...to say the least. It may be a challenge, but it was such a blast driving 90kph down dirt roads with pot holes the size of my apartment pool. I wasn't brave enough to drive in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, but I did have the opportunity to drive in the bush with my friend Jim from Compassion Kenya and my wife, Noelle. I think Noelle was a little anxious at times, but she found that I was quite capable and had sweet driving skills! On the other hand, Jim didn't budge. Surprise, surprise, there was no radio coverage in the middle of Kenya so I let Jim borrow my iPod to listen to. He absolutely loved it! In fact, he listened until the battery drained. He just sat there in the passenger seat, which is on the left-hand side of Kenyan vehicles as I drove trying to avoid large pot holes and the concerned onlookers.
It was interesting -- in observing Jim, much of what I saw could be described as peace. Peace resonated with him. He had a great life! He loved Jesus, his wife and son and he had a great job at Compassion. He had so much joy and was content. As he sat there listening to my iPod, I began to think about my own life.
There I was enjoying the back roads driving a Toyota Prado with a good friend and my wife headed off to visit one of our teams in the back country. Life is good, isn't it? During our visits, I found myself challenged with the lifestyle of the Kenyan people. Some had it better than others, but what I observed was that everyone consistently seemed joyful. Joyful? I don't know about you, but I wouldn't find joy spending all day peeling potatoes, or having to butcher a chicken or goat just to make sure my family didn't starve. What about a place to sleep? In Tharaka, we visited an old woman's 'home' and found out that she was raising 4 kids on her own. She was 75 folks! Not only was she raising 4 kids on her own in the middle of nowhere Africa, but her house was falling apart and she often slept outside on this straw mat. This was a reality check for me. The few times I emotionally connected with the trip were powerful, and this was one of them. I sat there and she kept thanking us for what the team was doing. theMILL group that was in the area was building her a new house. Now, I could probably hang there for a few days, maybe a week or two without it being too challenging, but living there is a different story.
Here I am sitting in a comfy chair with my feet up on a over-sized ottoman, enjoying a perfectly air-conditioned climate. I'm more connected with technology than I've ever been with my Blackberry close-by and my sweet MacBook being worked to death. If I showed a computer to that 75yr old woman, what in the world would she do? Don't get me wrong, all this hardware is great, but I can't imagine what life would be like without a daily dose of Twitter, Facebook, catching up on blogs, my MacBook, Blackberry, etc. I could go on...
I'm sure everyone has something they are always connected to, so when is it appropriate to disconnect? Well, thinking about "disconnecting" from anyone of those devices makes my heart beat 180bpm and makes my hands instantly clammy. Okay, it's not that bad, but it would be challenging.
My Challenge to you...and me:
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth." Ps 46:10
Take three hours throughout the week and go sit before the Lord. Don't say anything, just listen and soak in His presence. Maybe some worship music would help take your mind off other things, so turn some on and just sit quietly. Blackberries, Treos, cell phones, computers, your best friend talking your ear off -- all these things are NOT allowed.
I wonder if doing something like this would help me disconnect from the things I've become so attached to. I venture to guess, practicing God's presence, would bump Him back up the list to number 1. What do you think?
When Noelle and I were visiting team in Machakos, Kenya, I met a woman that was 105yrs old. One of our MILL teams was building a house for her as well. When I first saw her, I couldn't get past the fact that she had been through more in her life than I could possibly imagine. Think about it...105yrs old! Folks, she was born in 1903! She's pretty dang old. Most likely, she has never left Kenya and there is a good chance she's never been further than Nairobi. All this to say, I was humbled by her joy and contentment with life. She was so grateful for the new "house" that was being built for her. She doesn't have a computer, blackberry, washer & dryer or even electricity for that matter. This old lady has her relationship with God. She has the joy of knowing that when she dies, she will have all the riches in the world. No one can ever rob that from her.
So, the next time you are checking out at the grocery store or waiting for that person that is more interested in reading the newspaper than driving, remember God has given you joy for a reason. Don't get robbed!