the mule factor

I’ve always been a bit stubborn.

Sometimes it’s got me in bit of trouble.

Way back in 1999 I was in my early twenties and working in India. I had a bit of time off and decided it would be a great idea to go exploring the sub-continent. I set my sights on Varanasi, a Hindu “holy city”. An Indian guy I was working with advised against it. “It is dangerous for you to go alone, the trains are not safe for you”. I arrogantly dismissed his advice, thinking he was just being a bit cautious, and that he really didn’t understand the “western woman” and so got a last-minute booking on what should have been a 24 hour train journey.

36 hours into my train journey and I was beginning to realise that maybe my colleague was right. If the train had been on time I would have arrived at Varanasi in the middle of the day. But “if” is a big word when it comes to Indian trains. My train pulled into the Varanasi platform at 3a.m. And I found myself, a single white woman, in a city I had never been to, in a country I was only just beginning to fathom, with no accommodation booked.

I have never been so scared in all my life.

So I found myself desperately thumbing through my Lonely Planet guidebook looking for a recommended place to stay. I found a name and asked a rickshaw driver to take me there. He, of course, gave me the obligatory “Oh no madam, that place is burnt down, I take you to Varanasi Towers”. 2 or 3 rickshaw drivers later and I managed to persuade one of them to take me to the place I had found in the guidebook. This driver was the craziest looking guy I had ever seen, with high-on-some-kind-of-drugs-eyes and massive matted hair, and as he drove me through the back streets of Varanasi I began to wonder if I would actually live to tell this tale.

I have never prayed so hard in all my life.

Well obviously I did live to tell the tale.  But I did do a lot of reflecting after that incident.

The bible says “Fools think they know what is best, but a sensible person listens to advice” (Proverbs 12:15)

God gives us wisdom through His word but He also uses those around us to speak into our lives. Sometimes those people will be our friends, sometimes those people will be our leaders or our colleagues. Sometimes it will be those we lead or serve. We don’t need to take on board everything everyone says, that would also be foolish. (Proverbs 12:5-6) But we do need to know who are the people we are going to listen to.

In all honesty I still have a touch of the mule in me. I don’t find it easy to listen to others. Today I received an email from someone who had observed something in my character. It has made me stop and think; she has questioned a decision I’m in the process of making. The consequences of pausing to stop, process, and pray some more may mean that I take a slightly different route on the journey that I’m on. God has put some fantastic people around me, people who love me and want to see the fullness of God lived out in me. I would be stupid to not listen to them when they have something to say. So I’m trying to keep my ears and my heart wide open to them.

Who are the people God has given you? Are you asking them for their counsel? Are you listening to them?

posted by Anna

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