My husband and I are preparing to travel to Asia next week. Our first stop will be Kathmandu, Nepal where we’ll spend a few days with one of our mission staff and see the ministry in which she’s involved. (I’ll blog more about that when I’m there—it’s pretty amazing). We’re also going to visit the village in which we lived for two years in the 80s.
We’ve sifted through pictures from that season of our lives and will get them printed so we can give them to our villagers. Yesterday, as I edited and cropped them, I realized how much time has changed me since then. Physically, well…a picture’s worth a thousand words. But change has happened on the inside, too.
For instance, I recall struggling with my living situation back then. Many days I would have given anything to hop on the first flight back to North America and return to familiarity and convenience. I hated snakes and spiders, I wearied of having to boil and filter drinking water daily, I despised picking the wee white worms from the flour whenever I wanted to bake something, and I didn’t appreciate our lack of electricity and indoor plumbing. The more I focused on my circumstances, the more unhappy I grew.
I remember vividly the morning the Holy Spirit confronted my attitude. I was sitting on a wicker chair in our wee bedroom, reading my Bible and crying to God to rescue me from my hardship. He responded with a whisper, “Bloom where you’re planted.” That wasn’t the response I’d hoped for, but it was exactly what I needed. It helped me identify an attitude of self-pity and ingratitude, and it began an inward change.
I chose to start thanking God for my little mud and rock hut, for the neighbors who stopped by daily, and for the patience they showed me—a foreign woman who couldn’t communicate well in their language. And as I began to express gratitude, God changed my heart. I rose above culture shock and settled into our situation with wonder and awe at the incredible opportunity to experience a foreign culture cut straight from a National Geographic magazine.
To this day, I’m grateful for things so easily taken forgranted: a hot shower, glass windows (we had only screens in the village), heat for our home in the winter, a ceiling fan to cool us in the summer, an abundance of food in the fridge and on grocery store shelves, clean drinking water at the turn of a tap, and more.
I’m also grateful for the words God whispered to me that morning in my Nepalese hut: “Bloom where you’re planted.” I’ve recalled them frequently over the past 30 years, and they’ve truly helped me in situations when I’ve felt as though I deserve more or better. They’ve enabled me to embrace (with joy) circumstances that I’d consider less than desirable. And they’ve helped me develop the art of flexibility, which has proven invaluable in my current role that requires me to travel into faith-stretching situations frequently.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” My friend, God desires growth in us. He wants to rid us of characteristics that reflect selfishness and immaturity and to develop instead the qualities that reflect His beauty. He often uses difficult circumstances to accomplish this goal. Why? I’m not sure, but my hunch is that we don’t pay attention when life’s easy and we can function well in our own strength. Regardless of the means He uses, the desired outcome remains consistent—that we demonstrate Christ.
I’m excited for the opportunity to return to my little mud hut, to the place God used to kickstart growth and maturity in my life. I wish I could take you with me. I guarantee such a trip would change your life, too.
Question: What circumstances has God used to change you into His glorious image?