Sunday, November 14, 2010
Yesterday I was driving back to Nairobi from Nakuru after speaking to our freshman from Egerton University. Riding with me was one of our campus staff, Jonathan and one of our house staff, Tridings. Tridings and I are the same age, have kids the same age and both share the same sense of humor. During 2003 the students at First Baptist Harrison, Arkansas helped him buy an acre of land and build a small house on it. His wife lives there, farms the land and takes care of the kids. Triding pretty much runs the house, cooks for all of our conferences, keeps up with everything that needs to be fixed and is our "ear to the ground" guy with safety and the whatnot of the country.
As you travel from Nakuru to Nairobi you drive through the Great Rift Valley, passing three lakes, rolling hills, plains, forests, zebra, gazelle, baboons, and an extinct volcano. The scenery is breath taking and the traffic is terrifying, its the perfect collision of two opposites. Just after you pass the third lake, Naivasha, you begin to climb the east wall of the Rift Valley and as you crest the top of the climb you can see across the entire Rift Valley. The plains that stretch all the way to the Masi Mara seem to lead on forever, Mount Longonot towers in the middle of the valley and small farms dot the landscape. Like all good entrepreneur some locals have set up lookout points where tourists can stop, take in the view, buy a hot coke and buy carvings or whatever other piece of must have Kenya they can talk you into. I've stop plenty of times with teams from the US and in my travels back and forth now I almost run off the road trying to catch a glimpse as I keep moving to make good time.
Yesterday as we drove past the lookout points I asked Jonathan and Trini if they had ever stopped and looked. Jonathan said he thought his family stopped once or maybe it was a school trip, he couldn't remember. Triding, sitting in the back seat didn't hear me and so I asked again. He said "no, I never have. I've never had the time or the control to ask the bus I was on to stop. Its really beautiful, but I wonder what it looks like standing on the edge?" Tridings is 36, he's driven that road 300 times in his estimation and he's never stopped to look at one of the most majestic God creations in his own country.
During Worship today at church one of the slide backgrounds was of a mountain. When the slide came up, I stopped singing, sat down in my seat and dumbfounded thought to myself, why didn't you stop yesterday? I just kept driving, I had the ability to show something to Triding that he's never seen before and I kept moving. What was I thinking? Am I that driven? Am I that checked out of listening that the words "never" and "control" didn't compute?
Yes, I'm that insensitive, that clued out, that preoccupied.
I always pray for our students to be able to hear God's whispers, the have His ears, His eyes, His words as they walk through their days. I pray the same for me. Yesterday I missed a whisper. Seeing the valley probably wouldn't of changed Tridings life in any great way, but it might have. I might of missed a divine appointment with someone at the spot we stopped. I might of just needed to take in the beauty for myself and see His handwork to remind me of who He is. I will never know.
When the ton of bricks dropped in church on me today it made me realize how quickly I move. I move from this to that with just this amount of time in between for whats planned. I've ordered my day in such a way that my prayer can't be answered. God's whisper is going to fall on deaf ears because I'm on the way to something else.
It reminds me of a story my father used to tell me, funny enough about the same stretch of road. In the early 80's the Kenya Open was a golf tournament that used to attract some of the biggest names in golf. One year Sam Snead came to play and Mom and Dad followed him around the course the first day. After Sam's round, Dad approached him and asked if he liked to fish, and Sam gave a resounding "yes". Dad told him about a great bass lake about an hour from Nairobi, told him he had a boat and that he'd love to sneak him away after his morning round the next day. Sam agreed and the plan was finalized. The next day after Sam's morning round they grabbed a quick bite to eat in the club house and headed off to Naivasha. Dad, intent on getting Sam as much fishing time as possible, had the pedal to the medal. As they drove Sam kept pointing and asking Dad "what's that, who's that, what do they do?" Dad shot back quick answers concentrating on getting to the boat and out on the water. Finally, after flying by wildlife, scenery and interesting sights Sam had enough, turned and looked at Dad and said, "Allen, have you ever stopped and smelled the flowers?" There's a picture I have somewhere in an album of Dad and Sam Snead standing on the bow of the boat both holding huge bass at Lake Naivasha. Every time I see that picture I remember the story and remember the crack in his voice as he got to Sam's line.
As one of my pastors used to say, "Not that your like me, but if you are", I'd encourage you to STOP. Stop and smell the roses, stop long enough to look, stop long enough to listen.
Tridings and I have a date set to head back for the view soon.