I have been in South Asia for 10 full days and I can honestly say that everything is completely different from anything I've known before. The language, food, architecture, culture, people, dress and transportation are all very different than life in the States.
Today, I'm going to focus on the transportation difference though. In the United States, we have a lot of traffic laws and regulations that are in place to promote order, safety and peace of mind amongst its citizens. In South Asia, there are some traffic laws, but most of them aren't followed because there are millions of people trying to get where they need to. There are four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic (I can actually touch the vehicle next to mine), lots of honking horns, and drivers zoom in and out of like like they’re in an action film. Now this doesn't make it bad or wrong, but it's very different from what I have known and am accustomed to.
One of my new favorite forms of transportation is the auto-rickshaw. You can hop in, try to tell them where you're going, negotiate a price, and they drop you off. No need for your own car for local errands. Sometimes they will wait on you as you run inside stores and shops and the same driver runs all of your errands with you. They're very convenient and pretty cheap transportation.
As I was riding in one and praying, it hit me that riding an auto-rickshaw is an awful lot like following Jesus Christ. The driver has been looking for me, a customer in need of a way to get where I'm going. When I begin to tell him where I want to go, there are usually miscommunications between the two of us. I don't always get to go where I originally wanted. Sometimes it's because of my own lack of knowledge, or it's because he knows that there's a better shop for that one item I’ve been searching for. I've seen this in my own walk with the Father - I think that I am telling Him where I am going in life, but usually I end up going along for the ride and saying “yes” to His direction because I know in the end I'm not in control.
Riding in an auto-rickshaw isn't the most comfortable of transportations. There's no air conditioning, the road is really bumpy and difficult to navigate and sometimes you end up riding with a bunch of different people. Much like following Jesus, He doesn't just lead us to really comfortable places where every one of our desires and preferences will be met. Instead, He asks us to lay down these things because He is far greater than all of them combined.
From my own experience, following Him can be pretty bumpy and can take you down unfinished roads and places that you would never dreamed of going. During these times, you just hold on, try to learn as best as you can, and trust in His plan despite the hardship, defeat or sin. We also have the joy of sharing this ride with people all around us. Sometimes we would rather have other people with us during certain seasons, but in South Asia I'm learning to embrace the people I'm surrounded with because the Father has us together to learn from each other. Embracing the awkwardness is a lot easier and more rewarding than fighting or nit-picking the people around you. Embrace and learn.
Finally, I've learned that at the end of the day I don't get to negotiate, bargain or set a price for an auto-rickshaw. I can attempt to bargain and negotiate and lower the price until I think it's fair, but in the end my rickshaw driver is getting the exact amount of money he sought to get from me. In my mind and prayers, I tend to slide a negotiation to Jesus and convince Him of why my way is more effective, comfortable or convenient for me. However, my sin has already set the fixed price and His blood paid it all for me. I'm so thankful for His love, kindness and generosity towards me.
In Romans 3:23, the price I had to pay was death, but He paid that and gave me the free gift of life out of pure love. I just have to repent, believe and follow Him. When I think of His kindness towards me, I'm more than willing to offer up my life to share His glory and name with everyone that I can as a small gift. After all, "for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:20)
My time in South Asia is so short and so small compared to the love and grace which He freely gives, but so meaningful for everyone that I will share with. I am so thankful to ride on Jesus' auto-rickshaw and see where this adventure takes me.
Katie will be a senior at UT Austin this fall. She is serving with Go Now in South Asia.