I’ve experienced the hidden pleasures in the ordinary – and it is crucial to thriving in the sacrifice.
I’ll start here. I love a Coca-Cola. There is something about the fizz, the taste, the icy cold consistency that goes down well on a sweltering hot day here. I do myself a favor and refuse to keep a stash of it at home – the temptation would be too great. But I may be known to stop at the little village shop up the hill a couple times a week for that tasty indulgence of caffeine. So much so, that little shop owner greets me by name and engages me in small talk on anything from politics and the economy to the church and societal ills. I enjoy our conversations – and my cold beverage that follows. Both are simple pleasures.
4:30 AM. The alarm awakens me while it is still dark outside. I force myself to crawl out of bed because I enjoy walking most when the cool of the morning welcomes the sunrise. It’s the perfect time to meet with my Creator. It’s there the fresh air reminds me that I’ve been gifted with new mercies as the day dawns. The sea’s crashing into the cliff is almost rhythmic. The bee buzzing from flower to flower brings to mind that God has already touched every facet of my day. The sun’s eventual breakthrough from behind the clouds assures me that if I remain faithful to the purpose that God has called me to, I, too, will realize my breakthrough. The knowledge of it all begins to stir my lips to sing a song of praise.
And then I see Robert. Robert shows up faithfully every morning, despite his disability, for his morning walk. I greet him, “Good morning, Robert. How are you this morning?” He greets me back, his answer the same every day, “Good morning. I’m good.” Robert doesn’t know it, but he inspires me. He’s quiet. He’s humble. He patiently walks at the pace his body will allow him. And he is committed to finish his route every single morning. Oh, that my life would reflect that commitment – that I would not tire of showing up and doing good in this overseas life, despite any handicap the barriers of culture may present. Time lapses quickly, so I wish Robert a good day and begin my walk home. My senses are fully awakened from the pleasure of being with God in His creation – for everything He has made is a quiet teacher of His truths.
Saturday morning. The rush of the week spills right into the weekend as I hurry my son into the car to be on time for his cricket match. I never would have ever imagined that I’d hold the title of “cricket mom”, which leads me to confess – before moving here, I didn’t even know there was a sport called cricket. Shame on me! But, I assure you, there is and oh my, does he ever love it. It is a great privilege watching him pursue this passion and ability that God has gifted him with. I’ve even learned to score so that we can have a better dialogue after a match is done. To my son, the cricket field is a field of dreams and our immeasurably more God keeps making inroads for him beyond what we could imagine. To me, it’s a field ripe for the harvest – an opportune place to minister the hope of Jesus. And what a great pleasure to be out in God’s creation doing so!
On any given day, I retreat. I retreat to the cliff’s edges to see God’s awesome power at work in the seas. I retreat to my bedroom to drown out the noise of this life. I retreat to the coffee shop, especially when I hear pumpkin spice lattes are back on the menu. I retreat to the park bench where the birds’ melody inspires me to write a song of my own – the chorus goes like this:
“Unrush me, Lord, so I can feel your presence
Unrush me, Lord, lead me to waters still
Unrush me, Lord, restoring my soul
Lead me in Your will and unrush me.”
It’s become an anthem of mine – to be still and know that He is God. To experience Him as King David did in Psalm 23 – as the Good Shepherd who guides, who leads, who never forsakes, who keeps coming after me, lest I stray. Retreating is not an option, it’s a necessity.
Yes, this overseas life requires sacrifice. Yes, it often feels unbearable. But without the sowing of the sacrifice, you’d never fully get to know the pleasures it reaps. Can I just encourage you to look for it in what seems mundane? Like the shop owner who loves to converse or your neighbor that unknowingly inspires. Like your children’s events that take you out of your comfort zone or the simplest of retreats that bring awareness to God’s creation. Yes, finding pleasure in the ordinary will help you to thrive. God’s word says that He takes pleasure in His creation, in His people. And if we are to be a reflection of Him, who sacrificed all, we should take pleasure in His creation too.
What hidden pleasure have you uncovered in the ordinary events of today?