The sun had barely risen over the cacti and scrubby bushes of northern Mexico. I just hoped, as I stumbled down the dusty road in the yet dim light of the hesitantly rising sun, that I wouldn’t encounter any scorpions. Sleep clung to my eyes and brain like decaying cobwebs.
Why had I ever committed to this thing in the first place?
Oh yeah. It was God’s idea.
That thought trudged around and around my mind as I sat perfectly still for my sister-in-law to paint my face. The baggy suit slipped on easily, and she tied a pair of headphones around my waist. I looked in the mirror.
Ridiculous. I looked like a clown. It was perfect.
How could I get out of doing this? But I’d committed. It was too late now. Trying to ignore the snickering of some of the others in the van, I stared out the window and wished it was over with. We arrived. The guards stared, ushered me into the cubicle and frisked me for contraband. I didn’t blame them, who knows what I could have been hiding in that preposterous getup. Then they let me in.
The first part of the service took about an eternity and a half and I sweated in the glare of the sun and the terror of anticipation until I was sure my face paint was ruined.
But the moment came at last. I walked out into the middle of that courtyard, surrounded on all sides by of hundreds of Mexican criminals, every brown eye fixed on me. It was so quiet that I was sure everyone could hear the thunderous beating of my heart.
I started out by juggling oranges. Before long they were rolling to the far reaches of the prison. I twirled batons. The clatter of the wood echoed deafeningly in the silence. I snatched up the unicycle. A moment of tottering success, and I fell. I tried again, and fell. Again, and I sprawled on the concrete in defeat.
That was it.
That was the plan. That was what God had told me to do. Go out there… and fail.
In front of hundreds of men, my ministry team, and my family…fail.
Why? I have no idea.
I was barely sixteen then and that day was a pivotal point in my life. My family has been involved in some kind of ministry or another at every stage of my life and my parents have gone to great lengths to involve me and my siblings in our ministry as a family.
I have loved Jesus since before I can remember. He has always been my Friend. He has always been my Savior. I have always known I was a sinner, I have always known I needed His blood to cover my sins and make me acceptable to God. I have always believed that He came into the world, born of a virgin; that He died on the cross for my sin and the sin of the whole world; and that He rose from the dead on the third day.
There has been a sweet confidence throughout my life that Jesus has saved me and that when I die I will go to be with Him.
I mean seriously, I was baptized when I was five.
But until that day in the Mexican prison, I hadn’t fully committed myself to Jesus as my Master and Lord. On that day, I made the choice to obey Him no matter what–even if I look like a complete fool; even if, for the life of me, I cannot understand why; even if it’s scary and even if it is dangerous.
I’m still making that choice. Since that time I was a clown, it’s gotten harder. The choices have gotten bigger, the faith I’ve needed stronger.
While there are still the “little” daily choices to humble myself and obey, there are bigger even more life changing ones like leaving the only home I’ve ever known and moving across the ocean with my family.
It’s a daily act of surrendering myself to God’s will. And let me tell you, I have certainly not learned this lesson fully yet.
But it’s incredible what our God can do with someone who is willing to shakily step out onto the frontier of what they know and are comfortable with and trust God completely. It may not make sense, it may be terrifying, and it may even seem useless, but to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit is the most glorious adventure I know.