Suffering for the Lord right? Yeah, right! I go to sleep at night with the sound of rain gently falling. I have a poinsettia tree right outside my bedroom window beside exotic white spidery looking flowers, bright pink New Guinea Impatients, deep red roses, red/white/purple bleeding hearts on my porch, banana and guava trees out in my yard, and beyond all of them the steep, lush green mountains with their scattered houses, trees, and pillars of smoke appearing out of the shrouds of the morning clouds. I awaken to hear birds singing and bees already busy about their work in the garden. There’s a breeze most days though the other day it felt and smelled as if it had come directly off a warm ocean!!!
I wear shorts or scrubs or a skirt most days with flip-flops on my feet. As I walk to work I see palm trees swaying and fluffy clouds passing in a brilliant blue sky, feeling the warm sun as I walk. Arriving at work, I’m greeted in multiple languages and accents, surrounded by people generally in good humor, laughing and talking our way through our days. I spend my days visiting with people, listening to their stories and concerns, gathering information and dispensing it along with a medication or treatment. We close up for lunch and I head back to my house to fix a quick meal before taking it out to join friends on a blanket in the grass, under the shade of a large tree. Laughing and teasing our way through lunch, we eventually must part ways and return to our work with promises to see everyone later. Work in the afternoon is often much like work in the morning and the day passes quickly. Before I know it I’m headed home to enjoy Mexican stew and flat bread, check email, watch a movie while hand-twisting yarn for making a bilum (woven bag). The rain starts about half-way through the movie, falling heavily for a minute before slacking off to a sleepy drizzle. Before long my movie ends and I crawl under the light blankets and dreams begin.
That was yesterday.
This morning I was awakened at 5:45am (just before my alarm clock which is set for 6:00am, I might add!) by a very shrill, off-key screech coming from our not-so-melodic cicadas! Then about 15 minutes later, he decides that his concerto has ended, takes his bow and turns it over to the geckos who start chirping in random rhythms for the next 15 minutes. And as this second set of performances finish their time in the lime-light, a huge, loud choir of birds begin their starling-like songs but soon fights break out among them because one must not have like the accent the other gave that particular note and an all-out brawl ensues!!! By this time, my alarm clock has long since become useless and has been turned off and sleep resigned for the day! To top off all this, my linoleum floor is cold and, being that my windows consist of glass slats and can be turned into well ventilated openings at the flip of a lever and no insulation in the walls, last night’s VERY cool temperatures have me shivering in my heavy flannel pj pants, t-shirt, sweater and three blankets!
Finally, realizing that I have work and that I can’t go in my pajamas and 2 foot wide hairstyle, I force myself out of bed, across the cold floors to the cold tile floor and thin rug in the bathroom. But wait, that step didn’t feel right. Hmmm…must be that broken corner of the tile. Or not…I think that was a cockroach! Dumb bugs! Why can’t they go live somewhere OUTSIDE my house for once! I have lots of homey gardens to go infest! Yuck! And I’m out of about everything grocery-wise…so one piece of toast and it’s off to work. Man, it’s unusually cold this week! I wear a sweatshirt all day just to keep warm enough! (hhhmmmm….is that snow? Okay…so it’s not exactly that cold but still…I’m in the tropics for crying out loud!) Fire up the computer and it’s decided to erase my profile again! Another call to ICT department and another 10 minutes setting everything back up and I’m ready to work. So 10 emails requesting meds…and we’re waiting on answers to different questions from 8 of them.
Meanwhile, the mornings appointments have all taken about twice as long as we planned and over half of them need labs run. One needed 3 different x-rays. And 4 kids needed 3 immunization shots each. Man! I’m glad it’s lunch time! And only 20 minutes left of it! Oh, yeah. I don’t have much in the way of groceries and the store’s not open again for another two days! Guess it’s PB&J then back to work. This afternoon the first appointment decided not to come but someone else is too sick to wait until tomorrow. A few more labs and we have a treatment narrowed down but still…hhmmm. And now we’re running late again. But the rest of the appointments run smoothly although there’s one more kid to immunize. Phew! I’m tired.
I drag myself back uphill to my house, decide that I don’t want another PB&J and fall back into bed, to ignore what remains of the day. Fun, huh? Suffering for the Lord? Oh, yeah!
Okay…so maybe not suffering but maybe distressed for the Lord or unduly inconvenienced for the Lord.
For the Lord?
Oh…maybe…for…I know! For the missionaries I’m serving, right? Um…so maybe…yeah, alright. For myself. Suffering for myself!
Why?! Because I’m here! I’m over 9,099 miles from home! I forgot yesterday was store day so I don’t have too much to eat! Because those crazy critters decided on a morning ambush on my ears! And because there are cockroaches in my house!!!! In the dark!!! Under my feet!!!
Is that really why?
My servant, Paul—you remember him, right? Shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten with a cat-o-nine-tails on several occasions, chased out of cities by angry mobs…–anyway, he once wrote, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4:11) And another of my faithful servants, Isaiah—you remember him, don’t you? You were just reading about him, I believe. Yes, he went around naked for three years without hesitation or complaint when I asked it of him, gave up his own “rights” and reputation to obey Me and be My warning to my beloved Israel though he knew, as I had told Him earlier, that they would not listen. (Is. 20) And my Son, of course you know Him! My servant, Isaiah, wrote of His suffering in Is. 53 and my servant, Paul, wrote of His suffering and humility in Phil. 2:5-11. Surely, your circumstances hold no responsibility in your attitude or focus. That rests with you. Now, child, what do you find wrong with your day?
My focus. Papa God, I’m so sorry! My focus has been on myself all day! I know I just talked to the High Schoolers in chapel about all this. You and I have discussed this before, I know…how my focus determines my perspective, my perspective determines my attitude, my attitude determines my responses, and all of life is responses. I’m sorry, Papa God! Please forgive my self-centeredness and arrogant attitude! You’ve brought me here to use me and teach me and give me joy. Thank you! Thank you for the privilege of being here! I’ve dreamt for a long time of living and serving overseas and here I am! A dream come true! Thank you for the privilege of being forgiven and accepted and loved by You! Had you done nothing else, that would still be so much more than I deserve! Thank you for being my God! I love you, Papa God! Please change my focus!