Hi everyone! Today's post is one of my favorites ever! Written by none other than my husband, Rev. Michael Lusk. Enjoy!
I wanted to share a unique story from one of my missionary adventures in Estonia, on the Baltic rim. Then I´ll try my hand at extracting some significant, live-changing message out of it, as Christina always does with her own stories. But she has a lot of good stories due to the fact that she has the unfair advantage of finding herself in unbelievable (and at time, self-created) situations much more frequently than I do... or most anyone I have ever met, for that matter.
Where do I start? My friend, Johannes wanted to assure that I had an even more authentic Estonian / Russian cultural experience before I left. So after tonight's closing tent meeting, he took me to the house of some Russian friends.
Nickolai, the man of the house, along with his friend Alexander, were already in the sauna (banyah, for Russians) when we arrived. Johannes and I put on our sauna suits (which, in case you didn't know, are invisible a.k.a. birthday suits) and joined the other two men in Nickolai's home sauna. The temperature inside was 110 Centigrade (around 230 F). I am not lying! I guess that amount of heat isn't as bad when your stark-naked.
The whole experience is a real type of social, male-bonding thing that really transcended even my lack of language. I went in the sauna three different times, and after the third entry, Nickolai grabs hold of the traditional beech tree branch cluster, dips it in water, spreads water on the sauna's wooden-slat bench, and indicates for me to lay down on my stomach. Mind you, all I had on at that point was a wool hat, used to protect the top of your head from the scorching heat that collects at the top of the sauna. As I accommodated myself in that prostrate position (and the bench was still scorching my body, even with the water on it!), Nickolai lets loose and starts to beat the tar out of me with the beech branches. He gave me a real wailing, while Johannes shouts out, "Slava bogo! (Praise God) Alleluyah!!"
Just when I thought everything was over and I was free to go, Nickolai makes me sit down, and proceeds to flagellate the front of my body! Then, they all urge me to hurry, place flip flops on my feet, and run outside into the night air (temperature read at - 10 C, around 18 F). Remember, I still had nothing but the flip flops and the hat. I was directed to the swimming pool, where Nickolai had prepared a Russian "PRORUP", or "hole", in the thick ice that covered the pool, in the area surrounding the ladder. Alexander showed me to take off the flip flops, and to lower myself up to the chin in the frigid water. All had to be done quickly. 1,2,3... YAAAA!!! Just a dip was all I could bare, although I never remember shivering. It was actually refreshing and exhilarating. I went back inside, took one more trip into the sauna, and I was left with nothing more than enjoy the memory of a unique experience that will be indelibly marked within my autobiography!
So, what´s the deep moral lesson here? (digging deep...pulling...OK, got it...here goes) As I learned from my cultural-shock experience in Estonia, it's uncomfortable to "bear all". Awkward. Downright unnerving. Maybe that's why people aren't sure if they can "bear their soul" to God, you know, really open up. Well, sooprise, sooprise, sooprise.... He knows what you look like naked. And not just the birthday suit. He sees who you really are on the inside, too. Past the walls that you might put up for other people to avoid getting hurt. But the awesome thing is, God knows what you're like, and loves you anyway! So much, in fact, that He can't bear to leave you the way you are. Open your heart up to God, and He'll change you and do cool things you never even thought could happen to you.
If you liked this story, read my blog (it´s even better than Christina´s... Ok, well, not really, but it´s got some good insights.)
Click Here to see a video of me in Etonia!