With just two days left in India, our team visited the Taj Mahal yesterday and will travel back to New Delhi today. It has been a journey spanning thousands of miles, and we've all battled with sleep loss and illness. But today everyone in on the mend, and God has still been glorified throughout our trip.
After an overnight train ride from Damoh to Agra, we arrived at our hotel about 5am Monday. We all tried to freshen up a bit before heading to breakfast and the Taj Mahal tour. The buildings in the Taj complex are a marvel. Everything was built in the early 1600's - so about the time Jamestown was settled, a mathematical genius was constructing the Taj Mahal. Everything is a model of perfect symmetry and calculation. From any angle, there are new observations to make about the building. Everything lines up in the building, around the building, and hundreds of meters away, the lines are still perfectly straight. And there are a number of optical illusions that play tricks on your eyes.
The most fascinating part about the Taj Mahal is that all of it - this enormous white marble palace- is just a mausoleum. It's a giant tomb for an emperor's second wife. He loved her so much, that when she died he wanted to build this perfect monument to her resting place. No one ever lived there. Countless expense, amazing creative and architectural tallent, 22 years of labor by more than 30,000 workers - for a grave. Yes, it is a demonstration of one man's devotion and love to his wife. But it's still a grave.
A few hours later, our team visited a church. I had the opportunity to preach at 3pm on a Monday afternoon. In a room about double the size of a typical American living room, there were about 150 men and women crammed in, sitting on the floor, in a stairwell, crowding around windows from outside the building, and even crouched in a back room. The singing was enthusiastic. The temperature was hot and muggy. The Spirit was moving, and that tiny, cramped, old musty room was alive with praise. Praise God, there were a number of decisions as well!
Leaving that church it hit me: "You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ," (1 Peter 2:5).
In Agra, we saw an opulent, beautiful building that houses a grave. In Agra we saw a humble building of believers that houses the Living God of the universe.
|Entering through the Eastern Gate to the Taj Mahal complex|
|The Northern Gate that approaches the Taj Mahal, it's over 100ft tall!|
|This is not a fake back drop.|
|We lucked out with the weather. |
The sun came out after a storm and created
these awesome dark clouds behind the Taj.
|Another shot of the Taj Mahal from up close.|
|A woman in the Agra congregation. (Thank you Ivy for the pics in the Agra church!)|
|Singing praise to Jesus.|
|Listening to Bible teaching.|
|Making decisions for Christ and rededication.|