Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Servant I Uphold

We begin the late morning session of the Leadership Summit with the introduction of a speaker, by the president of International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen.  He talks of one of his heroines—Pranitha Timothy—the leader of IJM aftercare in Chennai, India.
As his video fades, Pranitha stands on stage, slight and pretty, and begins to talk.  She tells of her life in India as the child of missionaries.  When she was sent to school she wanted nothing to do with God.  Instead, she describes herself as her classmates did—cold and calculating.  It’s amazing, really.  This woman on the stage couldn’t possibly have been that, could she?  She tells of the emptiness and desperation she felt and of a moment when she found herself broken before God and ready to respond to Jesus.

She reads to us a passage of Scripture.

"Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
   my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
   and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
   or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
   and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
    he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
    In his teaching the islands will put their hope."

This is what God the LORD says—
the creator of the heavens, who stretches them out,
     who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it,
     who gives breath to its people
     and life to those who walk on it:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
      I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
     to be a covenant for the people
     and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”

     Isaiah 42:1-7 NIV
Pranitha tells of how God spoke to her, saying that she would be His servant; and He would do all this through her.   Now she tells of how He has done this through her.  She talks of losing her voice.  When it came back she says it was as we hear it, “feeble.”  Her voice is a bit scratchy, but if I had to describe it I would say she speaks gently. 

As she continues, she talks of brothels and work camps and rescue.  She tells of rescues that go as planned and others that don’t go as expected.  She describes a situation in which IJM goes to rescue workers from a camp.  When the team arrives the captives have been moved.  They discover the truck and the authorities make them return to the camp for evidence of some sort.  The prisoners try to describe that it is a trap and it will be dangerous, to no avail.  When they arrive at the work camp, the captors are waiting, armed and angry.  They begin to pray and a strange thing happens.  The criminals become confused and begin fighting amongst themselves.   Everyone is able to escape safely.

Perhaps I shouldn’t be amazed, but I am.  All this in a woman who is slight and gentle and lovely.  I think she must have the leadership of Deborah and the faith of Rahab.  Her miraculous story sounds like something straight out of the Bible to me—where battles are confused and prison doors are opened.  These kinds of miracles happen today.  I know this, but it is so out of my realm of experience. 

Is this what Jesus talked about when he said, “I tell you the truth anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father” (John 14:12 NLT)? 

I wonder why don’t I experience things like this?  Is it a lack of faith or trust?  Am I just not in situations that require me to believe because my survival depends on it? 

What is it about this woman who leads as God’s servant?

Pranitha tells all who listen that she is not a hero. 

She says, “We are [all] called to serve by a God who is already at work.” 

In the midst of this, she talks about how important it is to believe that our lives are not our own.  When we believe this, we trust that our lives are safer in God’s hands than our own—even in the midst of a band of angry criminals.  We don’t have to be afraid to obey.

She also reminds us that God is good.  She says that even when what we see and experience in the world is hard when we trust that God is good it gives us hope. 

I reflect on this. 

I am called to serve, by a God who is already at work.  He invites me to join Him—to trust, follow and obey.  

In doing this, I may not experience the visible miracles that Pranitha has.  Yet, what if there are heart miracles going on around me all the time as I trust God—in the midst of a conversation with my neighbor or with the cashier at the grocery store.  Is it possible that when I trust in these small moments, I can be confident when other more acute situations arise, I will find that God meets me there too?

I wonder; and as I think about how these situations require me to trust, I think I understand why Pranitha said she wasn’t a hero.  I think it is because she realizes the real hero has upheld her in the midst of the most dangerous situations.  She is the servant.  She must trust God—the hero—to save.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we embrace our role as servants.  As we trust him, by following in obedience, may we find that he provides for every need—the expected and the unexpected.  May we find that he works in us by doing the same things that Christ did and even greater ones—whether conversations or miracles—through the Holy Spirit.  May it bring us to joy and greater trust in our hero—Jesus Christ.

Jessica :)

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