Saturday, January 24, 2009

Banners of Hope

"So we don't look at the troubles we can see now rather,
we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.
For the things we see now will soon be gone,
but the things we cannot see
will last forever."
2 Cor. 4:18

We brought 8 long pieces of wood, and 8 shorter pieces of bamboo along with 4 big banners on the metal frame. The banners were about the hope of our Creator. We spent Friday the 16th driving around the country-side hanging up the banners for the conference coming up. We would drive out to remote parts into the middle of a town and dig two holes- put together the frame of the billboard with the two long poles, and the two shorter bamboo sticks horizontal to create a big frame for the banner to go on- then set it up. We traveled from place to place, and by the second banner, we we're loosened up and were laughing with the crew. I think the only people i saw laugh the whole day were the guys on our crew. And considering how dark and hopeless the land felt, i can see why.

Hanging up these banners was an invitation to all to come to this huge tent meeting to hear about hope for every day and eternity. It was our Creator's invitation. Probably because there were three white guys working, but people came from all over to see what we were doing. And even if that is their reason, i am okay with it, because they get to hear and see what we're about.

As we drove in this big van with a group of 6 or so IREF guys, listening to Indian music about the Almighty, it became apparent to me; we were making a statement. In a place where it is hot or cold, it was making a statement to put up these banners and play this music. It meant something to them, because the message we live wasn't twisted or tainted or jaded in anyway. Of course it may be upsetting that the poor and needy are lifted up and cared for in the caste system, but it is powerful.

As we pulled over on the side of the road, the three of us were confused as normal. As Christian put it, "there is something always going on that we aren't aware of -- something that we're missing." They motioned that they were getting something to drink. They crossed the road to a well, and met a group of people drawing water from it. We couldn't help but think of when the Son meets the Samaritan woman at the well. The people that were already there were getting water needed for their survival. They have to go back everyday, but it never really quenches their thirst. In contrast, the IREF guys went to get water, but they had living water. And we have this living water to offer everyone, whether we are at the well or not.

We travel on and this battle, not of flesh and blood but of the rulers and authorities of the unseen world becomes more and more real. The beautiful message and truth about how much our Maker actually loves us, and isn't transcendent but real, alive and here ready for a relationship with us. That this message and basis is a relationship of love, like a marriage. These other practices may require strong discipline, have structure that comforts people, and idols we can see with our eyes. But, just riding in this van putting up these signs was a mark of freedom. It felt like there was light coming out! It was this open ticket, asking people to just come and be. To listen. Hope. To see if there really is a relationship we can have with Him -- that we can encounter Him. And sure it seems pretty outlandish, but we could be right...

"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now' rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."

(2 Cor. 4:16-18)

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