Here in Banga, for the past week, we have had running water less than half the time, and we have had electricity less than half the time. And not necessarily for the same "less than half the times".
This morning, we woke up and discovered the water had started running during the night. Quickly, because who knows when it will stop again, we fill the two large plastic buckets in each bathroom. We fill the water filter tank for drinking water. Sarah and Alyssa come over to finish hand-washing the laundry in our tub. They had started it yesterday, but had to stop when the water did. It was good that they finished it, since now the water is out again.
The electricity has been out all day. When it flips on, we quickly plug in our computers and our phones, in hopes to get them fully recharged to make it through the next outage. The nuns who run the guesthouse lent us a solar lantern. We put it out each morning, and it makes a little circuit around the house as the sun goes throughout the day, so that our walk down the hill to dinner after sunset can
benefit from its light.
In short, our fairly Western lives are fairly poorly adapted for living in such circumstances.
We often refer to "power" instead of "electricity", as in "the power's out", or "I hope I have enough power to finish this." It's probably accurate in more ways than we intend. What we do, what we accomplish, is often so dependent on electricity that the lack of it creates a feeling of immense powerlessness, and if that doesn't immediately lead to frustration (or something worse), then it is simply the grace of God to us.
In short, the frustration in our hearts is due to lack of control. Probably all humans suffer from some form of this, but Africans are notably more accustomed to being out of control than we Westerners.
God is in control, right? I don't have to be, right? I shouldn't be, right?
And suddenly, I'm not in control, and I'm amazingly not OK with that.
The term "creature comforts" doesn't really do it justice. It's communication with family, it's work that needs to be done, it's baths for the children, it's a nightlight for a scared kid in a very dark
In the end, though, it's just the same. Is it enough for God to be in control? He who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies. He whose "power" has not been cut off.
Paul writes about finding contentment in all circumstances in Phillipians 4. He calls it a secret, in fact. He says "Rejoice in the Lord always." Rejouissez-vous en tout temps de tout ce que le
Seigneur est pour vous. I read the French version this morning in church. "Rejoice at all times in all that the Lord is for you."
I read it sitting in the Catholic church next door, where we are invited to worship on Sunday mornings. The power is still out. There are two candles on the altar. There are two traditional drums in the left corner. The song leader stands up and with a small flick of his wrist, the choir erupts in harmony. The wall of music is taken up by the rest of the church and washes over me. No power. Immense power. Things were not what they seemed. "Rejoice in all times in all the Lord IS for you."
The service goes on. Everyone is staring at us again. I'm zoning out for lack of comprehension. The priest is 40 minutes late. Rejoice! Rejoice!
There are precious treasures to find in what we lose in this life of ours. It is in giving that we receive. BUT, it is in dying that we are born again. And that's good, because there is no romanticized
simple life. The blessings of such things are a gift to us, but it can feel like dying. Dying to our selves, to our productivity, to our idols of worth. But it is in such dying that we are born again.
Pray for us. Pray that this would be seed sown on good ground, for it is not always that way. Pray that it would produce much fruit, in us and through us, for the glory of our Lord, who has died for us.