I have been out of the office since February 28th with a follow knee “revision” surgery on the knee replacement I had done in October of 2015. I hope to resume activity on a regular basis next week. In mean time, Rev. Frank Briggs, Senior Pastor of Lighthouse United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, shared with his congregation the following blog article which I am sharing as a guest blog with his permission. JML
“We are lost.” I’m not sure that those three little words are welcome at any time, but in my lifetime, this time, they caused me concern like I’ve not experienced it before.
On my recent trip to Kenya, two of us on the mission team were privileged to accompany our Bishop, Mike Lowry, to a very important installation service for a District Superintendent of the Methodist church in Kenya. With our Bishop from America expected at the event, it was a big deal. In fact, there were probably between 1000 and 1500 in attendance at the service, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Justice was the name of our van driver; love the name, don’t you? He was the one who, without fanfare, calmly stated the fact, “we are lost”. I had ridden many hundreds of miles with Justice by the time this trip took place, and found him to be a strong Christian, a loving husband and father, who was very wise. He was also a terrific driver who navigated through the absolute chaos of Nairobi traffic, to the miles and miles of dirt roads in and around Maua, where we spent our first week.
To appreciate the magnitude of Justice’s three little words, you need to know that the vast majority of Kenya has few paved roads. Nairobi, yes, good roads there, but you get away from Nairobi, and it becomes difficult to find pavement. Consider this, in the larger Maua area, there are at least 100,000 people living, and there is one paved road, the two-lane highway that runs through town. So, 99% of our driving was down silty roads that hadn’t seen a road grader in what I would guess would have been at least 100 years (but perhaps I exaggerate). Anyway, these dusty roads twist and turn and there are no road signs, so navigation along them comes by way of experience, and Justice had a full measure of it.
Unbeknown to his three passengers, Justice had never been to Tharaka, where the installation service was to be held. And though we all knew that the route to Tharaka would take us off the main highway (the one previously mentioned), what none of us knew was that this journey would require us travelling down 60 miles of some of the dustiest, siltiest roads you’ve ever seen (think of the famous Baja 1000 off-road race).
The folks who “knew” had told Justice it would take us about 2 hours maximum, to get to the church, but in reality it was a three hour journey, one-way. It was about an hour and a half into the dusty roads, that Justice pulled over where two roads intersected and stopped, to utter those three little words.
I have to admit that when Justice said, “we are lost”, my first reaction was to think to myself, ‘hey, wait a minute, I’m not lost, because I’m with you, I put my trust in you…you may be lost, but I’m right where I’m supposed to be, so there’s no we in this lost business, it is you who are lost’. But alas, my rebellion was short-lived as I realized that, at the moment, if Justice was lost, so was I.
Justice chose the turn he thought would get us in the right direction and when we came upon the next little village, he conversed with a few of the men, who confirmed that he was going the right direction, and they coached him on which turns he needed to make ahead. And when we chanced upon another village, Justice asked again, and then again, at subsequent villages, until we finally arrived at our destination, to the cheers and applause of his three passengers.
Though we were under the impression that the service would start at 10, it wasn’t’ actually to start until 11, so our arrival at 10:15 was no problem as they had not served “breakfast” yet. Being honored guests, we were some of the first in line to get our food. None of us knew exactly what we were eating, other than the boiled eggs, and I had the privilege of sitting next to the wife (Pauline) of the Bishop of Kenya. I must admit that I had to regroup a bit after Pauline asked me how I liked the ______ (a word I cannot remember), but when I looked puzzled at her word, she clarified when she said they were “entrails” a ”delicacy”, which she was enjoying, like I do Oreos. But I digress.
The service went swimmingly, as much as a six hour service can go swimmingly, in probably 92 degree heat, all of us outside and under tents (praise the Lord). And oh, did I mention that I was in a tie with a jacket, and the Bishop, along with the probably 200 clergy who attended, were all in robes. Yes, picture that would you; but I digress again.
Well, Bishop Lowry did a terrific job bringing the message to the crowd and shortly before the service actually ended, Justice came and let us know that we needed to go, as he didn’t want to go the distance that was required of us to get off the dirt roads, before dark.
We of course did arrive safely back in Maua at about 9:30 that night. It was a day unlike any other in my life…and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Lent is about our willingness to admit that we have strayed from the highway that we know we should be on, and for some of us, it’s about recognizing, “we are lost.” It is about taking responsibility for our relationship with Jesus and not finding the nearest scapegoat on which to pin blame for our lack of direction. Do you know where you are?
Justice did what we all need to do: own the reality of our position, head the direction that we think we need to go, and find people we can trust to coach us as we find our way. Have you?
So the next time you find yourself lost, if Justice isn’t around, you can find your own justice, when you seek Jesus. He will help you utter three other little words, “I am found.” After all, in this life, there is nothing greater, than being found. Are you?