When I first arrived in Kolkata, India, it was close to midnight, I was exhausted, sore from traveling, and anxious about settling in. I had been looking forward to outreach since before I had even arrived in Australia to start my Discipleship Training School. When I found out we were going to India, I was overjoyed. I could picture it perfectly in my head: colours and textures decorating every wall, lush and tropical plants growing abundantly, wildlife on the roads that I was only used to seeing in a zoo. I knew there were a lot of people and traffic too, but that wasn’t the focal point. I had let myself expect a country closer defined by Hollywood, indie blogs, and chic magazine covers, rather than the reality of what the nation held. On top of it was this zeal to ‘go out and change the world’, to pour out my heart and soul to this country I was about to spend my next three months in. I had this expectation on myself to love everything I saw and did.
However when I woke up in the morning, a different feeling hit, shock replaced my excitement, and the daylight revealed a very different place than I was expecting. There was so much around me, sounds, smells, and sights that I wasn’t used to, a language I didn’t understand, and a culture completely different to my own. While other people around me didn’t seem to have the same hesitations as me and dove right in, I started to retreat within myself, feeling disconnected and disappointed. I felt like I was letting God and myself down because I wasn’t meeting the standard I had set. But then, the Father met me when we were gathered together in a small circle, sitting on the ground, playing songs on a guitar. All of a sudden some lyrics hit my heart from a song called Find My Own Flame:
“I don’t want to ride on somebody else’s passion, I don’t want to find that I am just dry bones, I want to burn with unquenchable fire, deep down inside, feel it coming alive. Help my find my own flame, help me find my own fire, I want the real thing, I want your burning desire. Do what only you can do in my heart tonight, there’s no better time.”
I realised that I was hanging on to the edge of other people’s coat tails, that I wasn’t engaging with the people or God the way I should have been, that I was trying to do everything out of my own strength and with false expectations.
With that song also came a small reminder from God: “You’ll never be able to appreciate everything in this beautiful country if you try to do it with your own heart; but my heart is full, my love is perfect, and my vision is clear.” So I asked God for His heart and for His eyes. As I did, my expectations changed and so did my perspective. God had breathed fresh life on the little spark in my heart that I hadn’t even seen. He gave me a love for India like no other and gave me a passion for people that I never would have been able to dream of, one that isn’t going to fail.