“Tibetan pilgrims pray on the road to Lhasa: prayer can be dangerous to your health, as a car drives close to a devout pilgrim in full prostration, oblivious to oncoming traffic. This group had been travelling for a month and still had a month to go to reach their final destination – the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the spiritual centre of Tibet – praying every step of the way.” Michael Yamashita – National Geographic Photographer
This picture above shakes me. Whether these Tibetan pilgrims be wanting the attention of their god or from the people around them or genuinely praying out of anguish and passion, they really do make a scene.
This picture provokes feelings in me that make me wonder if I am doing enough to get the attention of the One True Living God. It makes me wonder whether or not I have as much passion, whether or not I allow enough of that passion to flow through into my everyday life instead of only flowing through my quiet time.
I see devotion in this picture. Though I do not pray to the god they pray to, and I do not give my devotion to their god, I do wish I had this passion for devotion in my walk with God. That I would have a radical abandonment of all thing worldly and run my race with vigour, passion and persistence. Even if my run be dangerous to my health I wouldn’t mind because I am doing it for God.
But let’s take a step back here. Do I have to run a vigorous race to gain Gods attention? Do I have to be totally devoted to God for him to answer my prayers?
Faithfulness is required of us but Gods love covers a multitude of sins, mistakes, slip-ups, and disobedience. His love forgives us 7 x 70 times and on and on. The picture of God’s grace for his people is Jesus dying on a cross and rising again from a cold grave.
God does not require us to do certain acts religiously to show our devotion, but he does see our hearts and the attitude of them. Jesus came to fulfil the law that required me to pay my debt of sin with an offering, the law that required me to stay away from certain foods because they were considered ‘unclean’. The law that required me to not break the Sabbath, and so on. Jesus obeyed and fulfilled every law so that I didn’t have to be reminded every day of how sinful I am. Instead everyday God reminds me of Jesus dying and rising again to bring me closer to him and in that I see a love that is unshakable and untainted.
So Jesus/God does not want me to get hit by a car while praying fervently out of diligence on a busy road, but he wants my heart to be right. He wants my heart to belong to him and his heart to me.
But unfortunately I do fail at this simple task. What makes me fail?
Laziness. It’s as simple as that.
Seeing the picture above shakes me in a different way too. It makes me realize that I am not doing enough. If these Tibetan people are willing to go the extra mile and are willing get run over for religious acts and I am lazy in my relationship with God even if I am not even required to do religious acts then there must be something wrong with me.
These Tibetan people probably have a list of religious acts to fulfil in one day and on top of that make sure they believe they have a relationship with their god. I am not required to do religious acts, such as – sacrificing, praying specifically, offerings, etc. – all that I am to do is to love my God with all my heart and with all my soul, with all my strength and with all my mind and to love my neighbour as I love myself. And sadly I cannot always fulfil these 2 commands.
But hope there is, always. Grace was the act of Jesus dying and rising to life again. This act was done to cover the whole future from that day forward, every mistake, every sin, every slip-up and every act of disobedience. This is the canvas of grace that is the background for our everyday lives. It reminds us that God forgives 7 x 70 times, that he is good and his love never fails us.