I took a deep breath, stepped off of the plane, and began the journey into mystical India. After traversing oceans and continents, it was time for my return to this far off land. The Indira Ghandi Airport is much improved and the long walk to immigration and baggage claim helped orient me to my new and not-so-new surroundings. Changing money, the man in the Thomas Cook uniform miscounted, shorting me 2000 rupee. I counted for him and he addressed the error. We stepped into the warm night amidst the cars, buses, and hundreds of people looking for and giving rides. There is always that moment of hope in the midst of the unfamiliar, that someone would be standing there with your name on a placard, even if it is misspelled. You are far away from home and are looking for anything familiar – anything that tells you that you are not on your own – even it is is your own name misspelled.
Nothing. But, we have been through this before. People are not where they are supposed to be. Something happens. A car breaks down. Plans change. Miscommunication. We called the hotel and they said that they had sent a driver, but he was broken down, so just grab a taxi. That is an adventure, to be sure, because you never know who you are dealing with. A man comes up to the 6 white people with bags on their shoulders and offers us a ride. We tell him we are going to the Hotel Classic Diplomat and does he know where that is. He says, sure, and we then start haggling price.
"1800 rupee," he says.
"Too much. No deal," I say.
"Okay then, no deal." he says. So, we start to walk off, but then hesistate to see his next move. You NEVER accept first price in India. Plus, he was charging 300 rupee per person ($6) for a very short ride up onto the freeway. Robbery.
After a few steps, he comes back and says, "1500 ruppee, but no more."
"1200 rupee and you have a deal," I say.
1200 rupee it is.
He takes us to the place to wait for the car. We tipped him 100 rupee.
Everything in India is up for negotiation. It is all one big dance, a flow down a meandering, yet often rushing river. You don't know where you stand, often. If you are looking for what is fixed and stable, you will only find it in relation to yourself, others, and the whims of the universe and all of that keeps changing as well. It is difficult to navigate a nation where there are few fixed points.
But, we are here and in being here I am reminded that in this place and at this time that God, the Creator is at work to reconcile all of the wild streams of India back to Himself and that He has grafted me into one of those wild strands, the children and hills of the Himalayas. I am here in the midst of the unpredictable to worship and be a child of God, a fixed place in a shifting envrionment, not because I am geographically rooted down, but because my God does not change like the shifting shadows. He is a God who can be worshiped because He is a God who can be known and who can and does reveal Himself to us.
In thinking of the relativism and constant negotiations in India and the fixitity of the essence of God, I am led to reflect on what my own worship looks like. Do I worship according to negotiations for the best deal, according to the price that I set or according to what seems best to me in the moment? That is the HIndu way – since all streams lead into one, it doesn't really matter how you get there as long as you are sincere.
But, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, is not to be approached as I see fit according to the moment, He is to be approached on the basis that He has established through the finished work of Christ on our behalf. There is a way to come to know and live in and through God – the Jesus Way, and it is not up for negotiation – it is threw faith in Christ alone.
But, we so often miss that way.
I hope to explore that way this week from Northern India with fresh eyes. I apprecieate your prayers as I seek to encounter Christ in every situation with the attitude and power that He gives. I hope to learn directly from the old sages who have brought the message of Jesus up to these hills years before – people the world has never heard of. Who knows what supprises will be waiting for me as I worship this way, clinging to the Cross, waiting for resurrection, enjoying surprises along the way.