It is Written for the Slumdog and Me

Jamal is one question away from winning 20 million rupees. How did he do it?

a. He cheated.            b. He’s lucky.

c. He’s a genius.        d. It is destiny.  

The movie opens with Jamal on the hotseat on the Indian version of Who wants to be a Millionaire, a nobody who serves tea at a call center in Mumbai. His direct gaze and raised eye brows show us his level of internal shock and amazement as he hears each question and realizes an event in his life has unmercifully provided him with the correct answer. He remains in astonishment even while the host openly belittles him before the audience about his “profession.” After each question is read aloud to him he has a flashback that shows us how he knows the answer, but the host knows Jamal is just a slumdog … how could he possibly know all the answers? Scenes of Jamal being beaten by staff are peppered throughout the movie; they heavily suspect that he has cheated or lied to make it to the final question because they certainly don’t think he’s a genius. His response to how he knew the answers: I just knew. Yet, winning the 20 milllion rups isn’t the focal point of the film — it’s the interconnectedness of events that eventually leads him to his childhood sweetheart, Latika. I too have experienced this internal shock as I have watched the Lord weave all of my past and present life together like a tapestry– yet I still question his guidance and love for me.

Lately, I’ve wondered, am I really where I should be? Is this the BEST use of the gifts/talents God has given me? Heck, I hardly have skills to do program development and statistics! In reading Scripture with a good friend of mine in the US I’ve been reminded that from a western perspective, we see Jesus as kind and loving, but we do not see him as being smart or as a pragmatist. But I tend to lean toward seeing myself as human capital to be spent on the Lord and this is why I’ve thought, “I could be of more use somewhere else.” I’ll admit,  I’ve had doubts about being here until this past Friday.

At our team meeting my director took the time to discuss a passage before planning our next Freedom training with the 500+ labourers freed in late April. She said, “I think this will be our passage for the work we’re doing here” and we took time discussing how we see our role in the laborers’ lives. Of course, the passage was Isaiah 61 (my life chapter). Let me explain a little about this passage. When I was 17 years old I spent weeks thinking through this passage and journaling my thoughts, as I sought to understand it fully; this is when I knew everything in my life would point back to this passage. In it I received a task from the Lord – not in specifics but in recognizing a specific population of people; I would directly or indirectly work for the benefit of the oppressed, brokenhearted, and marginalized- those most despised by the world. And the task at hand– to be a balm, advocate, or teacher for these people who are made in God’s image. I do not deserve to be here and I’m a perfect example of how God takes the foolish and weak people of this world and uses them for his glory, despite my flaws and countless imperfections. Now, back to the meeting … When we discussed the passage I was captivated by the grace of God as he assured me with great confidence that I was exactly where I should be, even though it’s not a position of serving him out of my greatest strengths. I’ve learned my lesson … the Lord isn’t a pragmatist and I shouldn’t evaluate the quality of his plan against the plumbline of pragmatism.

But … what leaves me in awe more than my initial salvation is how everything in my life has been recycled and woven together for my gain and God’s glory– just as the heart-wrenching events of Jamal’s life eventually led him to his heart’s greatest desire, Latika. So, when I began to question if I should be here or not, the Lord grabbed my attention during the team meeting– in a similar fashion as Jamal on the hotseat– and he took me down memory lane and reminded me of events in my life that have without a doubt lead me to this very moment. I was awestruck, again. Nothing makes me feel more significant and insignificant, simultaneously, than to gain an ongoing experiential understanding and personal witness to the Lord’s level of engagement in orchestrating and redeeming the lowest and highest moments of my life with intimacy, purpose, and meaning. There’s no other life worth living. 🙂

“God calls us out of the life we have known and calls us to a life we have never imagined.” -Erwin McManus