2 Cor 12:10 “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
If there was ever something in my life that has redefined expectations, it is moving overseas to do ministry. Our first house in Africa was literally on the beach, a beach bungalow, the waves practically crashed right up to our back steps, idyllic. …Except that the roof to the kitchen and living space was made from a tarp, in rainy season there were streams of water coming through our roof, filling up buckets in an hour. The traverse from our bedroom to kitchen was all outdoors, and required rain boots and an umbrella just to get a glass of water, with carefully placed steps so one didn’t slip on the slick tile flooring that carried a stream of water from our front door to our back door (again part of the house was all outdoors). Our kitchen was about the size of a ½ bath and frequented by many mice and cockroaches.
Despite the beach shack’s many challenges, the summer months were beautiful and it had one shining light – the back porch had a spectacular ocean view, it was my haven. Yet, even that lost its allure after a long day of attempts to assimilate into a completely new culture. There were many awkward encounters trying to avoid men’s eyes so as not to appear inviting and trying to grocery shop in an unfamiliar language, only to yet again come home with canned tuna and cheese –“Tuna melts again for dinner, honey.”
After that long day, I entered my solace on the back porch and was affronted by an intensely offensive smell. Where was it coming from? Well, smells are quite common wherever you go around here, but why did it seem so close? I scanned the beach and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. My eyes rotated from one side of the porch to the other, to finally land on a steaming pile of excrement. Yes, you read that right, poop, a big pile of it, fresh, sitting on my gated back porch.
My husband and I laugh about it now. Whether it was a dog confused by the endless opportunities on the beach sand for perfectly appropriate bathrooms, or a stranger caught in a moment of urgency as he suddenly searched for a hidden corner. Perhaps even an angry local that was disappointed with our choice to be the Light in their religiously restrictive community and believed that steaming poo would send us the right message. Whatever way it happened, its laughable…now.
What’s my point?
There are endless ways this place has taught me to lower and adjust my expectations. But, perhaps most importantly it has reminded me that my comfort, my rest, my lifeline is in Jesus alone. When life around us does not meet our expectation, and we feel pulled down to our knees. This is a good place. When we are weak, His power is made perfect.