Experiencing another culture worshipping Jesus is one of the most beautiful pictures of heaven I have ever seen, and every time I have the opportunity, my view of God is broadened and my joy is increased as I see Him at work in the lives of people who live so differently from home.
This morning we joined in a Nepali worship service, at one of the largest churches in the city. The workweek is Sunday-Friday here, which is why the church meets on Saturday. We took our shoes off outside the door, and joined the 200-300 members of the congregation sitting on the carpets all over the room. The women sit on the left, and the men on the right, although we all sat together in the back so we could hear the translation. We had a wonderful time of worship, teaching, and communion. The pastor is from India, and was one of the first missionaries to Nepal over 50 years ago. He is now in his late 80’s, and still preaches three services back-to-back most Saturdays.
Today he spoke on John 21:1-14, when Peter and the others return to fishing after Christ’s resurrection and appearance. Here is my paraphrase of the story: The men fished all night, and caught nothing. Then, right as dawn was breaking, this dude on the beach tells them to throw the net on the other side of the boat. (If this sounds familiar, it should…they had this same experience when Jesus called them to follow Him the first time) So, they do it, and the haul is so big they can barely pull the net in to the boat, just like last time. So John, cluing in, says “Hey, that’s the Lord!” And Peter, being himself, throws his tunic on and jumps into the water to swim to shore, where Jesus already has a lovely fish and bread breakfast cooked and waiting for them. The other men follow in the boat, and none of them questioned what had happened, knowing it was Jesus.
Once again, on their own, they caught nothing. Their own effort, just like the first time, even though they had all the skills and technology, was worthless. No fish. Not even one. That doesn’t mean they were bad at fishing, it just means they were relying on the wrong things for success.
The past couple of days, I have been a little overwhelmed. Wondering if making a life here was possible, if I am strong enough, if I can do it, if I will like the city, if I would ever feel comfortable here. And this morning during the service I was reminded that on my own, the answer to all of those is ‘no’. I would run away and fail miserably. I am only strong in Christ. I can only do this with Christ. I will only grow to love this city and the people in it as Christ continues breaking my heart. I will only feel comfortable if my comfort is found in Jesus, and not in anything that surrounds me.
My heart needed that reminder, and I love that Jesus brought it in the midst of a sermon translated into English, while I was sitting on the floor of a church with no shoes on my feet.