The country of India is a giant kaleidoscope of varying sites and experiences as conflicting as that of the Taj Mahal and Calcutta’s putrid city dump.
Having spent a month in ministry in various locations, I was actually on my way back to Belgium with a stop-off in New Delhi, when I experienced one of the most memorable of days. I was accompanied by three gals, whom I had met in Calcutta—a missionary wife, the pastor’s Indian secretary, and a well-known gospel singer from California. The four of us put our heads together agreeing that we had worked hard and needed some fun before I left the country. Thus was born the plan to visit the Taj Mahal in Agra three and one-half hours south of Delhi.
Due to the generosity of our gospel singer, we were treated to two nights in a lovely, even luxurious hotel. Our little Indian secretary had never seen the inside of such a place. Just sharing her “wonder” and enjoyment of a hot shower was worth the whole episode.
We hired a taxi for our trip to Agra paying the equivalent of $12.00 for the round-trip. We had hoped to leave early in the morning, but our singer, who was a bit of a “Prima Dona,” just couldn’t get her act together, so we didn’t leave until close to noon.
Our outbound trip down a narrow, two-lane, road, through barren, sparsely inhabited countryside, was uneventful. We had been warned, however, that highway robbery was a very real danger after dark, so we must return to the city before nightfall.
Having arrived in Agra after 3:30 p.m. and being desperate to see the sights, we sort of ignored the warning. After all, here we were, four pretty girls. Who would want to harm us? I don’t think we actually thought that, but the attitude was there. Our driver was nervous. He urged us to leave, but our “Diva” wasn’t ready yet. Finally, when the sun was already dipping in the west, we agreed to go, but we needed a refreshing drink before setting out on this grueling trip. Our henchwoman insisted that we stop at a hotel just outside the city. The driver had no choice.
When, sometime later, we exited the hotel, wouldn’t you know, there before us, in the courtyard, stood a gigantic elephant bedecked in all his finery? He wore a beautiful “jhools” or saddle cloth, a bright head plate adorned his forehead, and on his back was an ornate “howdah”-a seat for passengers. How could we resist? Would I ever have another opportunity to ride an elephant? It was a blast. In fact, riding that elephant and later, a camel, were two of the funnest things I ever did.
It was just bordering on dark when we resumed our trip, but the delays were not over. Thirty minutes out, we had a blowout. After the driver changed the tire, he insisted we return to Agra, because he had no other spare, but we were tired and hungry and vetoed that idea. I am sure this kind man had never before faced a phalanx of determined American women.
Darkness had fallen in earnest. This was no broad, brightly illuminated freeway. Only occasionally did we see a pinprick of light from a distant dwelling. It was eerie. I became increasingly worried as I thought of robbers. All of a sudden, up ahead, blinding lights appeared. We were sure the jig was up. Our California gal hid her expensive camera under the seat and stuffed her jewelry in her bra.
Instead of robbers, we encountered a military roadblock. We were not allowed to continue our trip until other foolish drivers, traveling the same road, arrived behind us. After some time, and a long line of vehicles, we had the safety of military escort back to the city. Arriving well after midnight, we were relieved, tired and hungry.
The warning we had ignored was real. The danger was imminent enough to engage the Indian military, yet I doubt we lost any sleep over it. Somehow, subconsciously, we felt immune to such threat. It couldn’t happen to ME! Could it?
We sometimes treat God’s warnings or counsel in the same manner. We sort through scripture obeying what we want and ignoring the ones that do not apply to “ME.”
We live in a dangerous world, both seen and unseen. At times we face danger because of our own foolishness thinking we will never suffer the consequences. However, our only surety is in obedience, for when our steps “are ordered by the Lord,” we have the promise that He will uphold us with His own hand.
According to the Isaiah, Jesus is our Counselor. He instructs us, teaches, guides, and warns us. If I love Him, I will obey Him happily knowing that it is for His honor and for my good.
Psalm 19:8-11 tells us, “The statutes of the Lord are right …Moreover by them Your servant is warned and in keeping them there is great reward.”
In Psalm 32:7, David itemizes the reward. “You are my hiding place. You shall preserve me from trouble. You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.”
This is a dangerous world. Stay safe “in the shadow of His hand.”