The rooster crowed into the darkness around me. I squinted at my phone – 2:30 am. I could hear the music outside still playing, hints of western pop with a Khmer karaoke overlay which sounded not as bad as you’d imagine, or maybe I was just amused. My New Year was ringing in, even though I was too exhausted to stay awake until midnight, despite the neighborhood dogs barking into the thick smoky Cambodian air. Our “deranged rooster” as my daughter-in-law aptly named him, was heralding 2020 a bit early, but I lay awake now, fully alert to all of the unfamiliar sounds around me. At a time when most people. including me, are prone to looking ahead – to a new year, new start, new diet, I lingered in the moment, letting my senses capture the strange land around me. My granddaughter’s rhythmic breathing beside me brought an other-worldly peace beneath the din and revelry outside the window.
We talk a lot about vision and that’s not a bad thing. Humans need hope just to survive. Soldiers dream of the girl at home, of mom’s baking while the earth turns to fire around them. The castaway hopes for a ship passing by. Maybe this year you want a new job, a husband or health. The ability to dream, to look ahead is God-given. It is the mark that faith aims at. But it is not faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Some translations use the word assurance instead of substance. That means we already know that we have what we hope for. It is a robust, whole and complete hope, not a desperate or vague hope. It is knowing that whether we are in Cambodia or Cape Cod, we are still sojourners. We are not there yet; this is not our home. We are assured of that and we can not only rest in that, we can live fully and walk with purpose and conviction because we know where we are going. Our vision? Bringing others along. Using our God-given gifts to point them to Jesus. the Fountain of Life, so that they need nothing more along the Way.
But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14
“Whoever.” Malaysians, Cambodians, Koreans, Chinese, Nepalese, Iranians, West Africans, Pakistani. I was privileged to worship Jesus alongside all of these nationalities while I was vising my son and his family over Christmas but in God’s eyes we are just His kids, with all of the stumbling and wandering tendencies that children have. We don’t need a vision, or even a plan. We need to come to Him daily, sometimes moment to moment – and never thirst.
“I’ve learned to stop looking ahead,” a friend told me recently. She and her husband have been side by side in the trenches ever since his cancer diagnosis several months ago. “I’ve got today, and that is enough. I just trust God with the rest.” There was so much wisdom in that, for all of us. That’s what got me thinking about the moment, how many God has hidden in each day, like He’s saying, “Look! Over here!” Use your eyes and ears and hands and heart right here, right now.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:14(ESV)
Everlasting, eternal grace.
I am 63. There is a lot more road behind me than before me. Maybe that’s one reason why I can linger now in the priceless moments God gives me. An out of sync rooster, watching my grandchildren play with children they can’t understand but each knowing the universal language of laughter, or singing Feliz Navidad in a Cambodian church (they really love this song for some reason) and the joy we share that transcends culture.
All these people died in faith, without having received the things they were promised. However, they saw them and welcomed them from afar. And they acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. Hebrews 11:1
We already have everything we need to make it to 2021, and each year after, until God’s children pass through the heavenly gates. But it’s what we do along the way that matters most. Let’s pray God opens our eyes to the moment, so we can love those He brings our way, and show them the way home – step by step, grace upon grace.
Happy 2020 friends – and Happy Sunday or whatever day you’re in. May the road lead you to Christ Jesus, Fountain of Everlasting Life, and His hidden treasure along the Way.
(Below is clip of children playing:)