Friday, August 17, 2012

Africa: The Standard

"…and He will lift up a standard for the nations…" -Isa. 11:12
I don't leave the country very often, but when I do, I am always amazed at the contrast of the cultures. Africa and the United States are so different. It's no wonder this crazy world has a hard time getting along. We all see the world so differently. Values seem to vary by location. But the Bible says that Jesus is the same, "yesterday, today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8). In a world that's constantly changing, that's a huge comfort. God is our "strong tower that we can run to and be safe" (Proverbs 14:10). He is the only true standard we can build our lives upon. But if we're not careful, we can be deceived. If we're not careful, we can be led away from the truth. At the beginning of our mission trip to Africa, we rented a small vehicle to run back and forth from the church plot where we were working to Brian's house. I went to the rental office over by the airport in Maun to sign the necessary paperwork. Toward the end of our trip, we exchanged the small vehicle for a larger pickup so we could travel into the bush. I went back to the rental office but it was locked. I waited and waited but the door remained locked. I sat on the stairs wondering why I couldn't get inside. Finally, I'd had enough and I began to wander around the area. That's when I discovered my mistake. The stairway to the rental office wasn't the only stairway in the complex. There was a duplicate stairway a few offices down and I was looking for the office at the wrong stairway. Embarrassed, I went back and got Jeanie and we went to the correct office. I apologized to the teller and I signed the papers. I was fooled. I thought I was pursuing the right location, but I was wrong. The right location looked a lot like the wrong one. I hadn't looked close enough. As you can see in the attached picture, we built a "pole barn" next to the church in Maun. The church needed a place to have Sunday school for the kids. We estimated that we nailed about 700 poles around that structure. We wanted to be sure that all the poles were the same height, so we designated a "standard" pole (held in the picture by Joey and Kefilwe, a Botswana student). Every time we cut or drilled holes in a pole, we laid the standard pole next to it. When we finished the project, the last pole we attached was that pole. We even put a star on it because the pole was valuable to us. After all, it assured us that the structure was accurate and even. The difference between the "pole barn" and the search for the rental car office was the standard. We never deviated from the pole and the shed stayed true to its design. I searched for the rental car office in the wrong location and remained lost (until I found the truth). Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Most people are lost because they don't live their lives by a standard. The only true and solid standard is the Lord Jesus Christ. Like that "pole barn," Jesus sets a solid pattern for our lives. Whether we're a parent or teenager in America or Botswana, if Jesus is our standard, we'll be "accurate and even." Let those you love know your standard is Jesus Christ. By focusing on prayer, God's Word and fellowship with other Christians, your "poles" will stay straight and true. And you won't get lost in the wrong stairway. By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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