Recently, while talking with a good friend I was asked if I ever just stop and say to myself, “this is my life”. The quick answer was, “Yes, all the time”, but the longer I thought about it, the more I realized there is more to it than just saying, “this is my life”. So, what is it that makes me stop and recognize that what is happening in these moments isn’t normal?
Sometimes it happens because I see something bizarre like a camel riding in the back of a taxi moto. It could be when something happens that I think is ridiculous, like children playing in the middle of the road or the insane driving. Or, it could be when I’m out driving on crazy roads, passing buses loaded with so much stuff they are twice their original size, seeing people riding on top of trucks or seeing some other random thing. In these moments I need to stop and appreciate the differences in locations, cultures, expectations and realities of life.
Then there are times when it is crazy hot outside, the power or water is cut for hours, the fridge quits working again, there is another leak or something else breaks. It is with great frustration in these moments that I mumble “this is my life” and then quickly, or maybe not so quickly, remember that I have so much to be thankful for. It is in these moments I stop and strive to focus on all those things I am blessed with instead of the negative things that are happening.
Often when life happens or difficult situations arise, I not so joyfully say, “this is my life”. These moments sometimes happen when I see social media updates of my family celebrating a birthday or holiday together, my sisters take another sisters’ trip or my family experiences a crisis and I am too far away to do anything to help. I always miss my family, but there are definitely occasions when those feelings are more intense. It’s at these times when I am thinking “this is my life” that I work on accepting the sacrifices my family and I make as I serve in Burkina (which I love, by the way). I am encouraged by what Paul Tripp says regarding my life – “Your life is not good because it is easy or predictable, but because the I AM has invaded your existence by his grace.” So, it is in tough moments like these that I need to stop and remember Habakkuk 3:18 “Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”
It isn’t only the bizarre, different or difficult moments that lead me to say, “this is my life”, but also the wonderful moments. Those moments when I am in the bush and I look up at the incredible stars or see a beautiful sunset. Those moments when I take time to recognize that God allows me to be part of the amazing work He is doing in Burkina. Often, it is when I am in the bush that I look around and think to myself, “this is my life”. It happens when God defies my expectation as He did on our last bush trip. As we showed up in one village, the people were saying we wouldn’t find any water because other groups had already been there and left 9 dry holes when they were done. We drilled and drilled with dust blowing everywhere and people coming and going, noticing that there was nothing different happening this time than all the other times. We were approaching 300 feet, which is the deepest we drill, and still hadn’t seen any water. I was mentally preparing myself for us to have to pull up 300 feet worth of rods and start all over again. However, on this trip the FIA guys (drilling org we partner with) brought an extra 10 rods (100 feet) and so we drilled to just over 400 feet. It was amazing to see God provide a source of water for these people when it seemed many had given up hope. The people were so excited they filled containers for over 4 hours straight, only stopping when we turned the generator off so we could go to bed. It is in moments like these that I can’t believe “this is my life” and I need to be better at taking time to praise God not only for defying my expectations, but for allowing me to be part of the incredible work He is doing here. It is in these moments I need to stop and say, “We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.” (Psalm 75:1).
As I was thinking about all these different types of situations, I realized there is more to these moments than just thinking, “this is my life”. I need to take these moments and allow God to work in my life, changing my heart to be more like Him. Paul Tripp says, “God’s work in you is a process, not an event. It progresses not in three or four huge moments, but in ten thousand little moments of change … The little moments of life are profoundly important precisely because they are the little moments that we live in and that form us … so, we wake up each day committed to live in the small moments of our daily lives with open eyes and humble, expectant hearts.”
Even as I was thinking about and processing all these moments and what I could learn from them, God was working in my heart and reminded me that this really isn’t my life. I am here to serve Him and glorify Him with my life … my life belongs to Him. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus loved me so much that He gave His life for me, so, I will strive to live my life by these words from A.W. Tozer:
“If God gives you a few more years, remember, it is not yours. Your time must honor God, your activity must honor God, and everything you do must honor God.”