Baltimore Reflections: Day 2 and 3

Our thirty hour bus ride to Baltimore suddenly met a slight extension. We left Friday and it was 1am on Sunday when the bus broke down one and a half hours from the church. I looked out the window and realized that we were on 495 just north of Silver Springs. This meant that we broke down in the only place where it would be difficult to get help. Literally, thirty minutes down the road either way we could get help quicker. So we called people and waited… and waited… and waited…
Most people don’t realize how organized I am. I don’t often appear organized, but most of the time I have all the details in my brain or on paper filed in a specific order. My good friend Mike Rowell put it best a few years ago, “John, you’re way too high strung. Don’t worry… you don’t have to have everything figured out… it’ll all work out.” Ever since he said that to me, I have tried very hard to trust my Messiah to take care of my needs. So knowing that about me, you can understand my feelings when a bus I am on with 56 other people breaks down and the bus company did not have the wherewithal to have a back up plan. I was a little more than frustrated to say the least.
The Bus driver was great! He worked tirelessly to get us a replacement bus. It just took him 7 hours to do it. At 5:30am I called the church. Jeff rallied the troops and had nine cars coming to pick us up at 6:30am. Fortunately, they didn’t have to make the trek. The saints at Valley woke up and prayed, shortly after 6am the bus company had finally found someone who would come get us. Stressed, irritated, and anxious to get off the bus, we loaded the replacement bus and headed toward Valley. Remarkably, our students did not complain and were in high spirits (Jesus has truly worked in the heart of our students! They are incredible!) The new driver did not know the way and began to take us through down town Baltimore adding another one and a half hours to our trip! I moved to the front of the bus and directed him to the church.
When we arrived, we unloaded, I hugged my family, we set up our beds, we worshiped God for a safe journey, and went to work preparing for the week. I felt like God had finished with me that morning, but God seldom finishes the lessons in this life so soon. I was frustrated and thought I was doing a great job hiding it when a young student said to me, “Who are we to think that we can go on mission with Christ and not suffer something. This is going to be a great trip!” My heart was struck with my own arrogance. The voice of a young boy spoke wisdom into my soul and knocked me off my pedestal of self righteousness. Not once had I stopped to consider that this may be a blessing. Looking back I can remember the brothers and sisters saying things like, “God has reason for us to be stopped,” “perhaps he is saving us from disaster,” “I guess the church needed more time to get ready for us,” “God is good, He let us break down in 68 degree weather.” My people understood suffering as sharing in Christ when I did not. I understood this minor trial as the bus company’s lack of preparation. My perspective needed to change. The minor amounts of suffering we participate in are given to us to enjoy Christ!
Just a note, I am in no way categorizing sitting on a comfortable bus on the sit of the road for 7 hours with the suffering of our brother Christians in other countries. For that matter, I am not equating it with the true suffering in our own country… we did not suffer, we waited. I am merely pointing out that God is teaching me to enjoy Him and trust Him rather than myself and my own comfort.
More to come later.

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