Bumper Car Life

Posted on: May 16, 2012 Written by
Bumper Car Life
      Photography by: Peter Mautsch from iStock    

Bumper cars are a strange carnival ride. I mean, who wants to get into a thing that is supposed to move, yet you cannot move, because there are others in the way who have no idea where they are going, how to operate the vehicle in which they are going, and how to get out of the jam they are causing. You think that if you get the car you want, the red one or the yellow one, you are set to go no matter what. Then reality hits. No matter what the color of your little car or what your mindset, suddenly there is someone blocking you.

I think missionary life is a lot like that. Once you get to the country to which the Lord has called you, you think you are set to go no matter what…like the color of the bumper car. The truth is, it is all about the ride, not so much the destination or the ground covered! I wish someone had told me that 24 years ago when I became a missionary. Although I am not a goal setter by nature, it would have been nice to know that some things are just not going to happen.

So much of the ground missionaries try to cover is blocked by what I call “fallen world events.” An idea blooms in the well-meaning heart of a missionary, and life is breathed into a grand vision. Then, along the way, something blocks you like a bumper car: a rule or a law, a person in the country of service who has the power to make it happen but will not, another colleague, health issues, family issues. All those bumper cars are blocking the destination of a dream. When you get through one block, there is another ahead of that one…and so on. No one really knows how to turn their “cars” to the side in time to get out of the way of a marauding driver or avoid the blocks. They just collide.

There have been times in this country that I have seen the others in their cars and thought ill of them—very ill of them. I have found my self-righteous self meting out judgment and wrath. Shame on me. I have looked at the blocks and not seen Jesus. Shame on me again. I have seen the jam of cars and been blinded to where the true power lies—in Jesus.

Jesus sees both parts of our ventures. He sees the beginning of our vision, and He sees where it will end up. He knows already where our thoughts will turn and on whom we will rely. It is a true comfort to me that He sees my bumper-car logjam, and yet He already knows that good will come out of it. Eventually—with time and patience. Eventually—with prayer and giving up control. Eventually—with yieldedness. All the while He wants me to just pay attention to Him. Only Him. Because only He can show us that life in Him is not a carnival ride.

 

© 2012 Women of the Harvest.

Question to Consider: What would you compare missionary life to?



About the author

My husband and I have been in Kenya now for 24 years. We work with the Maasai tribe in a remote area of Kenya. We do community-based health care (immunizations, HIV/AIDS counseling, clean water projects). I teach Sunday School, homeschool my own kids, and run a small guest house. My husband was born in Kenya as a MK. All three of our children were also.

View all articles by:
  • Joy in Nepal

    I think this can aptly describe how we’ve felt at times. Thank you, Vera, for the word picture to help understand life better.

  • Ligia in Argentina

    Thank you Vera. Your description helped me today to understand some of my frustration. Patience, prayer, yieldedness, and paying attention only to Him. He knows I needed to hear that in this very moment. It isn’t easy to be in that bumper car ride.

  • I have been reflecting lately on how ‘slow’ things seem to happen in our country. This is such an appropriate word picture for those thoughts. Thanks Vera!