“And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon. Satan has demanded permission to sift (all of you) like grain (Luke 22:31, AMP).’”
On the eve of adventure; mere hours from departure, I can feel it. It’s been a brutal season of trial; of testing; of onslaught and blackness, and the physical ache in my bones tells the tale.
If you’ve been following me here, in the newspaper, or on Facebook, you will know that our second son (a.k.a. Kid Kaboom) is off on an epic adventure. Eleven countries. Eleven months, all his earthly possessions in a backpack. He’s traveling with Jesus.
His World Race, a literal ‘race around the world,’ started with a season of fasting, desperate prayer and an answer that came in the spring of 2015. Then, on a sun-drenched day in September, we launched precious arrow from quiver, and his feet headed out with that pack. And then the call.
It was back in December when word came that the Parent Vision Trip, the opportunity racer parents have to join their kids on the trail, would be in Thailand, and I told about that here.
Then came the green light, the trip was a ‘go,’ and preparations stateside ramped up. A passport snafu had me sweatin’. When it came in the mail, I cried. That story’s here.
We got shots, sticks, pokes. We ordered our luggage. Got our ducks in a row. And then, bam! Hell opened up.
In three weeks’ time, my husband’s business took unprecedented financial hits (think, ‘thousands of dollars’). Too, the secretary that had just begun to really rock and roll in that front office, gave notice. And like that, it was back to the drawing board; more weeks, more dollars in re-training a new one. More stress.
Next, it was the truck. Which he drove to work like usual. A stop at the grocery store. That’s usual. Ready to leave, head for home, ignition’s broken. That’s not usual.
Then a message from our racer. “Hey, I can’t seem to find my wallet.” As it turned out, pickpockets had struck overseas. Milling crowd, heaving throng, and wallet’s gone with driver’s license and debit card. And on a Saturday morning, the racer’s dad is back out at the office, looking up numbers, making calls. That’s not usual.
The laundry room was next. I loaded the machine, punched the button. A click and an error message scrolling across the screen. Eighty-five dollars later, the tech can’t find anything wrong because it’s working for him. What in the…?
On top of all the outward stuff came a time of blackness and anguish such as I’ve not seen in some time. An area that still needs healing (and I know it) suddenly flared as though a giant scab had been ripped off, every nerve ending on fire, hot pokers stuck in, stirring ’round. That’s how it felt.
Crushing relational pressures and emotional distress. Spiritual dryness; the Kalahari right here, and deserts can look like starless nights of the soul.
With no desire to engender pity (yuck!) or sympathy, I am simply telling you that as we leave for Thailand tomorrow, I am going empty. It feels as though every bone has been crushed, and I have nothing to give.
Let me tell you where we’re headed.
Chiang Mai is known as “Thailand’s rose of the north.” It is a prominent sex tourism destination. During the tourist season, the number of prostitutes can swell to as high as 25,000. There, western males can be found, sitting with young girls on their laps.
Ladyboys wander there in that red-light district. Children sell flowers and live in nearby slums. And girls of different ages sell their souls. To the men who come looking to buy.
Pimps. Johns. Kids. Women. Hungry, ravenous men. And all of them, His heart’s desire.
“If I could describe the whole red-light district in one word, it would be numbness .People there just don’t seem to feel anymore. The women, ladyboys, bar moms, pimps, and johns, have lost all sensitivity to the value of a human. They don’t recognize how lovely, divine, and absolutely priceless a human being is.” – Julie Kim
Numbness. The walking dead. In the corridors of hell, it’s “dead men (and women and girls and boys)” walking. Walking the streets of Chiang Mai.
Today, running along the country road one last time in springtime’s sun, I’m thinking on those corridors of hell. And suddenly, a picture. It’s King Jesus, Him crucified and buried, and He’s striding straight into hell’s mouth…
Keys of death, hell, destruction, the grave. Yanking them right from satan’s hand. Oh, He conquered!
Corridors of hell, “dead” people walking and a girl (and her boy and her man), following Christ. Right into hell’s roadways and sidewalks. In a red-light district in Chiang Mai.
Jesus going first, we three follow. Tired and weak, but with Him.
Perhaps, after all, this way’s best. To be emptied clean out, ready to be filled.
Ready to go. Ready to serve. Ready to shine. For His heart’s desire, they’re waiting in those corridors.