Each time I return from Kolkata, India, I feel a disconnect with the culture of my home country. I have never lived in another country. If you know me, you know I am pretty atypical Texan and American – particularly western. I have wondered why there is a disconnect between me and my home country. Is it the abject poverty I have seen – not experienced – but seen? Is it the extravagance of America – and I mean my own? Is it the grocery store with its sheer quantity that is just impossible to compare to any grocery type facility I have seen in India? Is it the huge houses? We are temporarily homeless, living in the former home of my in-laws while we take care of some family business and get the house sold – yet this modest home with its front and back yard is extravagant compared to the vast majority of family homes we have seen. Is it the ease with which I went to a doctor last week because I brought home an upper respiratory infection? Or the trip to a drug store which has more other stuff than any store in India? Or maybe it is the amount of stuff we have, stuff that clutters up our life.
My wife is reading “Kisses from Katie”, a book by Katie Davis. Katie is a young woman who left her home country, the USA, at age 18 and went to Uganda and founded Amazima Ministries, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bettering the lives of underprivileged children. Cheryl showed us a passage from the book that is an excerpt from Katie’s journal. The passage resonated with me. Katie had put into words what I feel each year about this disconnect with American culture.
What is the real source of the disconnect? I agree with Katie, it is not the extravagance of American culture, but the lack of reliance on God to meet needs – to meet my own needs. Sure, I am always amazed at the availability of “stuff” when I return. For some reason, a cold gallon of fresh milk in the refrigerator is symbolic to me of the huge disparity between America and India. A gallon of cold fresh milk in my refrigerator always tells me I am home. Fresh water is another. Anywhere in the USA I can simply open the tap and have a glass of water to drink. In India I must go to a water filter or to the store and buy water. It is not milk or availability of fresh water, but reliance on God that is the glaring difference I notice. When in India, if you are sick or hurting, you pray. And you pray expecting God to heal you. When in the USA, we go to the doctor.
On a previous trip I heard of a man who had had a stroke. A local pastor, who is a friend of mine, went and prayed for this nonbelieving man. We got the rest of the story this year. It seems the man was healed 4 years later. And, the great part is he remembered the pastor praying for him and gave God credit for his healing – 4 years later. He gave God the credit to the level that the man has just started a home church in his home and asked the same pastor to come and lead it. What an example of obedience to a man who is living out his faith – yes both the pastor who prayed and actively waited on God to accomplish his prayer and the man who was healed and did not forget.
When you are lonely in India, you pray. And when you pray laying in your bed at the BMS at 4:00 AM, you know God is hearing your prayer. You feel his presence, and you are comforted. He speaks to us there. When we need a comforting ear here, we call on a family member or friend and we receive comfort. Sure, God provides those folks to give us comfort, but do we remember to thank Him and give Him credit for the comfort? I can’t speak for you, but I too often do not.
Can we rely on God for companionship, for healing, for wisdom and direction here in the USA – absolutely. Yes we can, but we do not. We have too many readily available solutions to our questions; in short, we have it too good. For me, the disparity between the extravagance here and the lack there is huge; however, the real difference is what I see in how people live in reliance on God there. I am appreciative of the example so many there set for me, the example of daily reliance on God to provide for my needs including my own personal fulfillment.
Let me challenge myself and you to remember who is the provider of comfort. Who is the provider of health. Who is the provider of wisdom, direction, purpose. Who is the provider of fulfillment. And to challenge me and you to choose to live relying on the one true source of all our needs. I expect the differences I see in this reliance on God will fade away as the things of this earth fade when I set my eyes on Him.
Be purposefully reliant, In His Service,
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. – Phil 4:19
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:24, NLT
Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.-Ps 37:4