I've lived in this country so long, practically all my life. I often don't really know how strange, how odd, its customs are for others. To me, some are just so basic. So...the other day I was talking to someone, and I couldn't believe it. He didn't know that we should stand up for the weak and oppressed. He didn't know that if a child was being beaten (as in violence, in anger, not restrained and limited discipline) that someone else should come to the rescue and it's a shame when no one does. Earlier we had been walking along, and he was surprised that I was noticing others around me. "And you didn't?" I said, "That woman...she was walking along crying before she turned into that house. That other woman who was shouting as the man was trying to pull her into the car..."
A few weeks ago I realized--I've been so long in this country, enjoying its benefits, that I think I take them for granted, forgetting to be grateful--to live in grace, and love, to know that there is new mercy and new strength for each day. May I never take it for granted.
And still, for as long as I've been here, and as much as the culture is part of me, there is still much that is strange, much that is not yet fully my own. While I live in such grace, I extend it as freely as it has come to me. While I am learning to understand and appreciate that the best and most real work happening within me is slow, and even though others cannot see it, it counts, and IS progress. Yet I can be so impatient with others and their battles--shouldn't they just grow faster!
The longer I live here, though, the more I like it. Love it really! The life is so much more extraordinarily free, and full, than I could have ever hoped or imagined. The options are numerous. The emotions encompass the heights and the depths. And I love that there is always HOPE--for me, for others--no matter what has happened, there is always the hope of a new life and a better future.
In this Kingdom, with this King...where else would I rather be? Except ... finally ... maybe ... a little closer.