Something that happens to me quite often, is I wake up in a hotel and forget where I am. It may be that I’m on a hunting trip or away at a speaking gig, but I wake up and before my eyes open, my mind tells me I’m home. There’s been a few times I’ve woken up in the dark and made my way to the bathroom. In my mind, however, I’m at home, so I go down the hallway or make a left turn, or something like that. And there have been other times I have walked into a mirror or tried to grab a doorknob on a window or opened the door to the hotel hallway thinking it was the door to that bathroom. As quick as possible, I must get my wits about me, snap out of it, and realize where I am in order to make the right adjustments. I am in an area that is home to a university. Students move here from all parts of the country. They’re finding out important things like how we communicate, our customs, and what soup beans are. While they are here, they will make new friends and have new directions. And they will adapt their living because of the new place they have been transplanted. Most of them will spend a few years here while planning to either return home or to some other desirable destination. But what if they could never go back? What if that option was off the table? And what if one day, I woke up in a place that was my new home? And I could never go back. What if that happened to you? What could you do? Well, you might grumble, but what good would that do? You might long for days gone by. You might become a hermit and never associate with anyone. You might even try to change the people around you, so they become more like you. There is one more option. You could change and adapt. And if you are a Christian, you could see this as the hand of God and could say, “Alright Lord, I get it. I’ll change. I’ll adapt. I’ll live as your follower in a land that is different than my own.”
Did you know that several stories in the Bible give us this scenario? I think of people like Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. All of these woke up to another country and culture. And if you look at each of these stories you will notice some similarities. Namely these. They embraced their new culture while keeping their convictions and their commitment to God. Here’s another way to put it. You can adapt to your culture and still keep your commitment and your convictions. So here we have these men who woke up in a place that was all new to them. Here’s what they didn’t do.
- They didn’t grumble.
- They didn’t long for days gone by.
- They didn’t complain about the government.
- They didn’t sit and sulk.
- They didn’t condemn everybody and everything.
- Instead, they kept their commitment. They followed their convictions. They embraced their culture.
- And They allowed God to use them to change their new world.
Maybe you feel like you are waking up to a country that is new. It’s not home. It’s different. You may not even like it. You can grumble, complain, sit, sulk, blame and condemn. Or just maybe you can believe God wanted you to be alive now, for such a time as this, and embrace the culture as your new place of ministry.