Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Lesson This Village is Teaching Me

It finally happened…again. Middle Eastern culture driving me to the point of irritation so extreme I find myself angry at their "inability to do life right." UGH. Yes, even typing those words is embarrassing. My sin is clearly evident. 

It's moments such as: when the power goes on and off (why can't they get it together), when scheduled meetings never occur, when men overpower you because they can, when you watch local women succumb to man's every demand, when violence is defended, and innocence is stolen, when lies are culturally acceptable, and critical thinking doesn't exist, when dangerous driving is tolerable, and neighbors are caught snooping…it's all these things that can drive a western mind to complete madness. Yet here I sit, compound walls surrounding me, the lurking eyes of the village people watching our every move...judging us in return. I find myself in constant need to check my attitude, evaluate my compassion, and pray for a power due to my unnatural state to love and accept those I don't understand. Once again, an opportunity to grow in my struggle with offering grace. 

Just like my time in Egypt, rural Iraqi culture shows me that it's my own expectations that become my biggest enemy. Running a project, a business, or anything the way we do in the states, and placing western work ethic and expectations on those around you, just leads to disappointment and frustration. Schedules, meetings, deadlines and efficiency do not matter the same way in this society that they do in the west. It's that simple. Don't expect much, and then when you get what you want, consider it a sweet surprise. 

While reflecting upon my constant frustration with things not going the way "they should", and realizing it is my own fault for expecting something that can't be, I was struck with a thought.  "God is the only safe place to put any expectation." But it wasn't three seconds after that thought popped into my mind that I realized how dangerous it is for me to think that way. 

It is not safe to believe that God will work in any particular way. We can't hold onto the expectation that obedience will keep us from pain nor can we expect to dodge bullets of struggle, to acquire a multitude of "blessings", or even to hold on to our loved ones. It's wrong to think we will always be privileged to see His power at work when we want to, or even to be used according to our heart's deepest desires. When we expect from God what our flesh believes is good, we are playing with fire. 

So what can we expect from God? We can expect His promises to be fulfilled. We can expect Him to be GOOD to us, even when He allows us to hurt. Goodness comes in all forms…following tragic situations, and dark pain. But His goodness does not change. We can expect that He will stand with us, offering the power of the Holy Spirit in those moments that the world disappoints, by not fulfilling the desires we hold on to so desperately. 

Expect His presence. Expect His promises to be fulfilled, no matter what that may look like. Expect that He is good…and you won't disappointed. 

Psalm 52:8b-9

trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.

I will give You thanks forever, because 
You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.