Is Religion What Jesus Really Had In Mind?

Last night before I went to sleep I spoke with my girlfriend on the phone and finances came up. Quite frankly Paris is expensive, and although I feel confident that my frugal guide to Paris for 12 days will still be shocking.. I find it shocking just how expensive it is here. A bottle of water or a bottle of coke is always at least $4 if not more. In other parts of Europe I love the fact that if a coke is $2 a bottle of water is usually 50cents. I love the promotion of drinking water that I’ve seen while traveling.. even marketing water to children with the same characters they use to market sugary snacks. Last night we discussed my financial goals .. to save $5,000 while traveling Europe. Saving has never been my strong suit and as anyone who has read my blog can tell you.. my travels started with nothing in my bank account.. wheeling and dealing on Craigslist buying broke down cars and fixing them to sell for a profit (who remembers that?)

It started with selling all the stuff I had accumulated around the house and in the garage over my work years.. stuff I bought to validate and treat myself because I worked so hard.. and then converting that money into camping gear .. a life of travel that didn’t require money because I knew I would never have any… and a year down the road I stood in New York City with $19 in my pocket and 3 days until my bus to DC .. and 8 days until my flight home to New Orleans with all the faith in the world that I was going to go to Europe. Within those days I happened upon a statue of Ghandi .. and then one of Mother Theresa.. people that had made a difference in the world.. and so His calling began

“those whom he predestined he also called”

I hadn’t been home since my mum died 10 years earlier because I couldn’t afford it. My first mistake was always assuming those flights were $1k and up.. which I never had. But the Pathways bug was deep in my soul and NOTHING was out of my reach. I could do ANYTHING as long as I was willing to find a way and not throw in the towel at the first sign of an obstacle. When I have nothing.. it’s really easy for me to have faith and turn to my higher power, who today I call Jesus Christ. When I have money in the bank, as a result of those prayers, it’s really easy for me buy my way around whatever the obstacle is instead of turning to Him.

Jesus was a simple man. I accepted Jesus into my life because of an overwhelming respect for how He lived His life. As far as I have read in the Bible, it’s open to interpretation if He ever owned a home, He didn’t have bank accounts of money, and closets of the finest robes. He was a carpenter by trade, and then traveled on foot during His ministry. He went to the people, He didn’t wait for them to come to Him. He didn’t have the disciples build Him a church where people could come and worship Him or God (if they weren’t ready to accept that they were one in the same) I respect the selflessness and the action that I find in the way He showed up for others, and I want to keep working towards a life like that.

So last night my girlfriend asked me if I was going to Nepal. I have been wanting to go and meet Sanjays family, see the progression on the house, and see the learning center that has been opened now for about 3 weeks. The cheapest flights even from London to Nepal and back are $400 each way, and I have a really hard time justifying spending $800 on plane tickets knowing how much that can help build the house, and maybe even complete the house? Not to mention, $800 is a lot of money out of my own pocket. I’m certainly not rich by any means, and my budget for a flight is usually about $50 if I can’t get it for that I take a bus.

So before I went to sleep I prayed on it. At about 4am I woke up to my phone repeatedly vibrating next to my head. I had stirred but I had fought the urge to really wake up. I looked at my phone and saw airbnb alerts over the last 2 hours I had been sleeping… 3 bookings in Galveston and 2 bookings at my house. Kat and I had just discussed how we hadn’t had a booking in a few days, and here were 5 in a matter of hours. Thank you Jesus!

I responded to each, and answered a question on an inquiry for a potential booking and was now awake so I worked on some photography until I felt tired again.. at which time my phone went off again.. an airbnb booking for the rest of August at my house .. $800 … and that’s how Jesus works. (They’ve since added a guest so now I’ll still have the $800 after I tithe)

I still feel conflicted about using it to go to Nepal as opposed to just sending it to them to finish the work. To be honest… besides my personal reasons for wanting to go, the one I haven’t admitted is because I feel obligated to be there and document the progress.. to prove I am really doing what i am saying. To quiet the doubts and the neysayers. We will see… should I go to Nepal ?

and those whom he called he also justified

As I write this I got another booking for 1 night at my house in September.. a youth church group of 9 people .. I couldn’t feel more surrounded by Jesus love than I do right now.

Maybe it’s because I prayed at the Sacre Coeur yesterday.. even tho I’m not Catholic and I don’t agree with all the money that is poured into the huge structures and lavish displays. I felt it weird that prayer had to be in silence and so much hushing took place .. that people ignored the no photography signs and took selfies anyway.. and that scattered around between the statues of various saints there were medallion vending machines and a gift shop. I don’t personally feel that’s what Jesus would have wanted faith to look like. I watched people line up and file thru throughout the day.. selfie sticks in hand. I watched them pay 3 or 10 euros to light a candle from the boxes of headlights candles piled high … and I watched as they all walked right past the lady sitting outside on the steps begging for a coin. Maybe I’m wrong.. maybe she isn’t really in need, but that’s not my place to judge.

The despair in her face didn’t seem fake to me. The pain in my heart as I watched so many, having just exited a house of worship to a man who sought the needy out in order to be of service to them.. just walk right past her.. their mission completed. They had their selfies.. they could mark this attraction off their Paris checklist.. and maybe they even spent an honest moment with Jesus while in there.

I’m new to Christianity.. I’ve been baptised a little over a year now, and I’ve been watching and learning, what I want my walk with Jesus to look like, and what I don’t want it to look like. I am by no means perfect.. far from it.. but I pray I’m walking closer to the life that God wants me to live with each day.

“those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” Romans 8:30).