Yes, our kids are probably going to have a bit of culture shock next year when we are back in America and they take off their shoes to walk on wall-to-wall carpet, or are able to drink water straight from the tap, or have more than 7 kinds of cereal to choose from in the grocery store. But we are, on most days, very content here with our different kind of life. I think a large part of that contentment comes from being where God wants us. God asks some people to live in places where I think "I could NEVER live there!". Yet there are people who probably look at my life and think the same thing.
The other day I was not feeling very content. It has been raining a lot so there has been lots of mud everywhere. Mud mixed with garbage is not very pretty. The drainage ditches that run parallel with a couple of the roads we drive on were running quite heavily this week with really filthy water. I saw a broken sandal (among other things) floating down this river. I gazed at the piles of garbage on the other side of that particular road and I thought, "I'd really like to look at something pretty today. I'd like to drive down roads that don't have potholes. I'd like to see something clean and beautiful as I drive down the road." (Maybe that's why I've been enjoying the pictures that Linds has posted here.)
It's easy for me to think the grass is greener in England or America or anywhere else but here. I read blogs of American friends and feel a bit jealous about their trips to Target or I feel homesick for my home culture that is gearing up for fall with cool weather and holidays. I feel a little discontent when I read a recipe that I want to make only to discover that I can't get one of the ingredients nor can I substitute anything here for it.
Then the Lord reminds me that all of those things are unimportant in light of eternity with Him. He reminds me of how easily I can make idols of "stuff". He gently reminds me of how much I do have and what enormous blessings He has poured on my life. And He reminded me this morning that just as I look at the dirtiness of my city and long for some beauty, it's not American neighborhoods or English countrysides I am really longing for, it's heaven.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding it's fruit every month. And the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of of God and of the Lamb will be in the city and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place." Revelation 22:1-6