Here I sit. Typing on a Macbook Pro, wearing my American clothes, listening to the buzz of the developing world flow through my window screen.
It seems strange that a few short days ago I was scanning my iPhone to pay for a freshly brewed vanilla macchiato at Starbucks. Today I poured some hot water in a cracked mug and mixed in a Starbucks Via packet that expired in 2010.
It’s a clash of cultures…Me, this Asian city.
I’m not sure what I expected to feel when our plane touched down on Sunday morning. I looked out at the landscape, which appeared extremely less urbanized than I remembered, and whispered to my baby girl, Welcome to your new home.
We walked down the stairs that had been wheeled to the plane and headed across the tarmac, back up another flight of stairs and into the customs checkpoint. As we stood in line for our visas, I kept waiting for the officers to give us a big toothy grin, heartily welcoming us into this land we had dreamt about.
Hmmph. No such luck.
We were faceless people entering a city without a name, a history, or a community.
We made it through baggage claim and met our teammates as we juggled eight suitcases, three backpacks, a stroller, a camera bag, laptops, passports, bottles, and two baby dolls. A few minutes later, we were driving through the city.
The smells were stronger than I remembered. The streets were dirtier than I remembered. The noises were louder than I remembered.
I remembered a quaint city with endless coffee stands and welcoming people. What I saw was a bustling city with endless mopeds and busy locals.
I guess dreams lead you to believe in a false reality of expectations.
I can’t imagine how many times I’ve said, Life will be good when I can finally ______________.
And then blank comes and I’m saying the same thing. I’m looking past the moment and dreaming of the future.
Last week, I thought it would be nice to have everything packed and just be here. This week I’m thinking it would be nice to have everything unpacked and just be in my own place. Heaven forbid next week I think it would be nice to pack everything and just be back home.
When dreams become actuality, why do they lose their glitter? How can we so easily forget the late nights we’ve laid awake with our hearts full of expectation? How can we so easily disregard the sacred search of our most anticipated realities and most eager hopes?
Starting college. Getting married. Having a child. Landing a job. We countdown the days until such events, but once they arrive, the newness wears off so quickly.
What we dream about quickly becomes common to us once it is a reality.
What if – just what if – we minimized our expectations, and praised God for the journey? What if we looked for the ways that the waiting would teach us perseverance, discipline, and obedience?
I fear that I have lost so many opportunities in the present because of anticipating the future.
I guess it’s like the road to Jericho, where the man was robbed and stripped and beaten and left for dead. I have no doubt that the priest and the Levite, the professional believers, had wonderful intentions in pursuing whatever important business they had in Jericho. Maybe they were going to sacrifice a whole slew of lambs or something. Maybe some babies needed to be kissed or some widows needed some money.
But those Christian-y guys were so focused on whatever they were going to do that they totally missed the guy in front of them.
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. –Luke 10:33
I can hardly run to my mailbox and back, so praise the Good Lord in Heaven he doesn’t ask us to marathon daily in the Christian race. It’s a walk, built up of small, seemingly insignificant steps, which build up to a lifetime of faithfulness.
Dreaming is not a bad thing. It moves us forward, broadens our thinking, betters our circumstances.
But focusing on our dreams also causes us to miss out on the faith journey in front of us. If we’re not careful, we can neglect the people God is calling us to love and the places God is calling us to serve along the way.
Our walk isn’t an I’ll finally be able to minister when __________________. Not when you graduate, not when you have a spouse, not when your kids grow up, and especially not when you retire.
A life of obedience is made by a daily, consistent awareness of who and what God is putting in the middle of your Jericho road.
Lord, may my eyes never be blinded to the obedience of the journey.