I just finished reading the book “Is That Really You, God?” by YWAM Founder Loren Cunningham. I loved the book from beginning to end. To say Cunningham had a vision is an understatement. He started as the poor son of a preacher man who traveled around Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Because of his beginnings, I automatically tuned in to his story from Page 1.
He and his family eventually wound up in California, where YWAM took off as a global ministry. I connected with his stories, simply told through a humble man’s eyes. It wasn’t until the second to the last chapter, however, when he spoke about YWAM volunteers cleaning out heaps of human excrement with shovels and repairing the sewer system in a Vietnamese refugee camp in China during the late 1970s that I truly began to grasp what it is I’m doing in Thailand.
My heart ached when I read the words on the page, especially when I looked around the lush courtyard of the Create center. The smell of Chiang Mai’s rustic sewer system didn’t seem so raunchy after all. I wondered, “Would I have grabbed a shovel?” Yes, I know I would have.
I realized this last week during a simple exercise. We were practicing ways to hear God’s voice. The demonstration seemed silly at first, but I walked out of that classroom knowing I would never be the same. Our DTS leader told us to imagine we were floating in outer space, and we bumped into a planet. On the planet was a kingdom and a king was summoning all the inhabitants to the castle. As crowds formed, the king singled us out, as individuals, and called us on stage. The king had a scroll. On the scroll was a task the king would ask us to perform. What was that task?
My mind went to downtown Boulder, Colorado, in 1995 when I stopped to watch a street performer. As hundreds of people gathered to watch his act, he yelled out, “I need an assistant!” He pointed directly at me. I looked over both shoulders, hoping he was pointing at someone else, and he called out, “Yep! I’m pointing at you! I need someone to help me juggle fire!” I shook my head, begging him with my eyes to choose someone else. He grabbed my arm and pulled me into the center of his performance area, where I juggled fire for him.
So, in my story about the kingdom, the king asked me to juggle fire. I would juggle fire for all eternity, and the kingdom would live in peace as long as I was juggling the fire. The king promised I would never grow tired, I could never drop the fire (even though I don’t have a clue how to juggle), and I would never be miserable. But I had a choice as well. I could choose not to juggle fire, in which case, the kingdom would crumble.
That was the end of my story. As I wrote it down, I thought, “This is completely ridiculous.” As I told the story out loud, however, I began to wonder, “Would I juggle the fire?”
I walked out of class heavy-hearted, contemplating my entire existence. If I wouldn’t juggle the fire than what is the purpose of being here?
I knew at that very instant I would juggle the fire. I will grab a shovel. I will do whatever it takes to prove to Jesus that he did not walk through deserts in sandled feet with no food, he was not beaten and spit on, he was not strung up on a cross for what must have seemed like an unending eternity, for nothing. He did that for me, and I will walk to Thailand and back, loving and helping every son and daughter for whom he died, until I am walking arm and arm with him. Yes, I definitely will juggle the fire.