I used to want a glamorous life, the kind that would attract attention and applause. I was the shy, unseen girl for most of my life, but when I announced I was going overseas I started to feel special. People talked about how proud they were of me when I stood in front of a church or Bible study and shared about all the adventures that lay ahead and the sacrifices it would require, all in the name of Jesus. What an impact I was going to have!
I struggled through two years of language school, humbled in my feeble attempts and huge fears. Yet, this was all just preparation for the actual work still ahead. I pressed on because the supporters at home were waiting for amazing stories to be read in newsletters with colorful pictures of a life they could hardly imagine.
I lived in a village of rural Cambodia for a year, and there I learned my brokenness. I was not the cross-cultural superhero I had always imagined I would become. Instead, I walked to the market daily and squeamishly purchased a whole chicken with the skin still on because it was the only thing available. I did not love my neighbors when they turned off our water and I was reduced to bucket baths, or when they gossiped with stinging words about our strange foreign ways. My teammate and I walked and prayed and instead of finding people with hearts open to the peace we longed to share, they commented on our weight, asked how much money we made and called us “the foreign twins who always exercise.” I longed for God to answer my prayer for a husband, and grew angry with Him when the pain of that longing raged on. I was lonely, hopeless and felt like I had been abandoned by the God who had called me. This was NOT the grand adventure. I was a failure.
There’s an underbelly of pride that masquerades as humility. “I am the worst overseas worker, and the reason the ministry is failing is because of me.” The lie from the Enemy or the voice in our own heads whispers these words and we can trick ourselves into thinking this is truth. Surely anything else would be self-asserting and excessive. We clamber up onto God’s throne and attempt to give ourselves control, believing the outcome of everything rests in our lap. That’s a lot of pressure to put on ourselves, yes?
When I fell off my expat pedestal during those agonizing days in a little border village, in the midst of the rubble God met me with His kindness. This is what happens when we are humbled in the very best way. Right there the Father gently reminds us that He is the only One who deserves the spotlight. He is good at being God, and I most definitely am not. When I try, when I strive to fix all the things and see lack of fruit and only have low numbers to report in newsletters, sometimes He has to cup my story in His hands and remind me that I am not God. He invites us to see greatness in the ordinary, to let Him hide us in His sanctuary for a time and worship Him there with joy. It has been in these hidden moments that He has taught me to cling to Him like never before.
Romans 11:33-36 says, “Oh how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.”
Whether we call our passport country home at the moment or are living in a foreign land, if we are raising sweet babies or caring for the orphans and widows, we all lead an unglamorous life in comparison to the glory and majesty of the One we serve.
How has God met you in your brokenness with His kindness? How have you experienced His greatness lately?