18 Sep Are You Spiritually Asleep or Awake? (Miracle on the Orient Express)
I recently read Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons.
Even though society might label us as irrelevant and extreme, I sometimes wonder if we, the Church, i.e. the Body of Christ, are asleep.
We see the moral, cultural, and economic chaos, unrest, and disruption. Then, we wring our hands in despair. We whine, “It’s all so discouraging…I wonder why the church is so quiet. I don’t know what we can do. Why don’t they do something?”
I want to shout, “WAKE UP! We are the Church! We are the Body of Christ. Let’s not wait for someone else to do something. Let’s ask God what we are to do…then let’s do it!”
Yes, I understand, it’s often difficult to know how to respond when there’s so much chaos and confusion in our culture.
When the way forward seems fuzzy and foggy, I seek clarity by remembering the key lessons I learned on the Orient Express – “The safest place to be in the entire world is at the center of God’s plan.”
Oh yes, I can stay within my comfort zone – however, the reality is that this may not be the safest place to be.The safest place to be, regardless of the risk, is at the center of God’s plan and purposes for you. Danita Bye Click To Tweet
Part 1 – Fear
It’s July 1980. I’m working with the Slavic Gospel Association. My colleague and I are delivering two large, orange backpacks, overly stuffed with Bibles, into Romania – one of the countries behind the Iron Curtain.
As I prepare for this trip, I ask myself the question I’ve asked numerous times before, “Am I willing to risk my life to deliver Bibles to people I don’t even know !?”
The answer comes, “The safest place to be in the entire world is at the center of God’s plan.”
And, I knew with 100% certainty that this was what I had been called to do this summer.
The intolerant political and social climate of the Communist Block creates harsh living conditions for all the people locked in its grip. However, Christians are especially targeted for brutal treatment.
Border crossings are particularly stressful. Guards are trained to diligently search for four items:
- Guns and ammunition,
- Drugs and any sort of narcotics,
- Pornography, and
- Bibles or “Biblios.”
This trip has two high-stakes crossings: the Austrian-Hungarian border, and the Hungarian-Romanian border. It’s always unpredictable how border guards will treat outsiders who are caught with Bibles in their bags. One of four possible scenarios will play itself out:
- the go-home-silly-idealistic-American-tourists conversation,
- a good-cop interrogation to see what you’ll divulge, followed by number one,
- a bad-cop routine as they try to persuade you to spill information about your contacts within their country, followed by number two, or,
- the six-months-in-a-Third World-prison-until-the-American-Embassy-rescues-you option.
Reality number four hangs over us like an ominous shadow. However, despite the dangers, we accept the odds – knowing “The safest place to be in there entire world is at the center of God’s plan.”
As a precaution for our contacts, no one person had full names or addresses. In fact, both names and addresses were coded. We were instructed to decode through the use of Bible verses when we were approximately 30 minutes away from our contact’s house. Now, as we’re about to board the Orient Express, I’m repeating these verses from Psalm 27, over and over…
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear… – NIV
Despite a slight chill in the air, beads of sweat form on my upper lip. My cheeks flush and I am shaking on the inside like a leaf. My backpack is so heavy that when I lift it, I am certain the muscles on my back will rip away from the bone! Stepping onto the infamous Orient Express train, I can’t help but wonder…will I be the next victim for the tower guards with the M16’s slung over their shoulders and their companion Doberman dogs…or, will I safely reach my destination?
And, I keep repeating, The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear…
As we enter our train compartment, a sense of foreboding immediately comes over me. I acknowledge our traveling companions — a frail grandmother and three businessmen, dressed in well-fitted, tailored dark blue suits. Why do I feel an ominous tension in the air?
Here’s the question I often ask myself: What am I scared spitless to do…even though I know God is calling me to do it?
It’s the question I have for you today: What are you scared spitless to do…even though you know God is calling you to do it?
As I reflect on this experience and think about moral, cultural, and economic chaos, unrest, and disruption that we’re experiencing, it feels as if I’m still a Bible Smuggler. I’m still seeking ways to be spiritually awake, to “humbly hear and courageously obey.” I keep asking myself – where is God inviting me to participate as He expands His Kingdom Principles, Purpose, and Plans in our world?
What about you? Where are you being invited to be a modern-day Bible Smuggler?
Where do you need to remind yourself, “The safest place to be in there entire world is at the center of God’s plan”?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Series to find out what happened on the Orient Express!
Leadership Lesson: God is calling Christian leaders to bring his presence into every interaction we have.
Leadership Question: What are you scared spitless to do…even though you know God is calling you to do it?