I had this idea before moving to Honduras that life would slow down and I would have time for all those things I wanted to do someday… not so much. On all fronts, the pace of life continues to accelerate. But mostly in a good way.
This Saturday, we’ll be moving into our fifth semi-permanent home within the last year. This is why God doesn’t tell us the whole plan up front. I would have said, “No, thank you.” But this new house is where we will be living next year also, so when we return after the summer, we’ll already be all set up, which will be great, actually.
And I mean we might as well move right before Stephanie has more brigades in town for 2 weeks, and I have the science fair at school at the same time… it’s possible we’ll be a little busy the next few weeks.
At least getting around town with my broken Spanish has become a little easier… except not really.
We got invited to a quinceañera for a girl at the school who is a neighbor of ours, and it was really an awesome experience. In the process, we needed to buy a quinceañera card to give to her. I went to the store and asked if they had quinceañera cards there, which I’m sure is a question they get all the time from tall skinny white guys. Either way, the very nice lady at the store said, “Para invitaciones?” I thought about it for a second and tried to think about how best to politely explain that I wasn’t actually hosting a quinceañera, but I also didn’t know the words to explain that I needed a card for a gift… So I just said, “No,” and we figured it out together pretty quickly from there.
Another time, I went to the grocery store to buy a few things, including band aids, which are behind the counter where you can’t just grab them yourself. I asked for band aids using a description and hand motions, and was met with success. Then the lady behind the counter asked me, “Cuántos?” or “How many?” This was a question I was not prepared for. I wanted a whole box, but it was pretty clear from her demeanor that no normal human being would conceivably need to buy an entire box of band aids. Ok, that’s fine… I’m still learning normal, so I said I didn’t really know, maybe 50? Then she proceeded to count them one by one… which made me immediately regret not saying a lower number. So I went to buy some other things and then went to the front counter, where they had delivered the band aids. They were the last thing to be rung up, and the cashier opened the partial box to count them and called out to the first lady to ask her how many there were. She said 50. Then the cashier asked, “Why didn’t you just give him a whole box?” And the first lady called back out across the store, “He only wanted 50.” I just acted like I didn’t understand their exchange and waited patiently for the band aids to be counted a second time.
And then today at school when I ordered a little extra food in the morning, I explained to the lunch lady that, “You are very hungry.” At least I realized my mistake long enough later that I didn’t have a chance to correct myself.
I’m sure I’m gonna laugh about all this someday, even the truly difficult situations here, of which we’ve had a few. And I really think we’re all gonna look back from heaven on the difficulties of this life with the same perspective. You know how you got in trouble as a kid, and it was truly awful at the time, but then you grow up and you talk to your parents about it and you all laugh? I think it will be like that. I don’t mean to trivialize some of the truly devastating things that happen in life that many people are going through right now… instead, I mean to emphasize the immensity of the otherworldly perspective we’ll gain in eternity. All of this temporary bad will pass away and be superseded by something currently unimaginable and eternally good.
But then why is life such a struggle? Just so we can work to fix it? Why do we want to fix it anyway? Wouldn’t all this busy-ness in our lives right now fade away if God actually was who he says he is, and didn’t allow all these difficulties into our lives, and just made things easy? Wait, who does God say he is really? Does he ever promise to make things easy? No?? Crap.
During a Bible study recently, we were talking about this idea of “alignment” or “realignment” of our will with God’s will. I think it can be a useful concept, however, perhaps more useful would be the “uncovering” of God’s will already within us. I don’t really think that we need to make a big shift from one intrinsic position to another. In some sense, we do, but instead, I think we really need to unveil the true desires of God’s heart which he implanted deeply within us before he laid the foundations of the earth. I think we need to pick off all the garbage this life has piled over our God-given desire to live a life rich with eternal love and joy.
I think we see evidence of this in our passions. We might say we want things to be easy, but who doesn’t want to be creative or inventive or pioneering or discovering or known as someone who accomplished something great? Deep down, we all do. And the accomplishment is even sweeter and more admirable in the face of difficulty.
We are eternal creatures. Don’t let these temporal bodies fool you. They grow weary of effort, but the spirits within them are driven by a force so infinite that we can’t truly understand it while bound to this life. But we feel it. And it drives us on.
At our very essence, we are a natural outflow of God’s existence, not just a side project of his. He wanted to share his joy, so he made us. And the wanting to share this joy was not only his desire, but his very nature, a condition of his very existence. That isn’t to say that he didn’t consciously choose to create us out of love, either, because he did just that.
And because he loved us so much, he gave us a choice. A choice to be with him and complete our joy and his… or not.
And now we’re here. Bound by our choices to allow temporal suffering to compete with eternal joy. Stuck with a mind whose gears grind to a halt when presented with the idea of eternal things. Trapped in a body that exalts ease and instant pleasure over determination and eternal impact. All in a world where bad things happen and the only one who can supposedly do something about it seems distant at best, malevolent at worst, or perhaps just plain non-existent.
So what then?
Well before you feel defeated, don’t forget, none of this will last. And even in the process of the worst of it, we will learn more about the God who loves us, but only if we choose to do so. It is this choice that allows struggle into the world, the very choice that God gave us because he loved us so much. It’s not the existence of this choice that causes pain, but rather, what we’ve done with it. And we have the opportunity every day to do something different with it. Something that was intended for it. Something that will lead to peace in the presence of suffering and joy in the face of sorrow.
How do I know? Because I’ve experienced it. God wants all of us to experience it. That’s why we’re here. What will you choose today?