I love living in Cambodia. Yes, it’s only been 3 weeks (how has it only been 3 weeks?!?), and, yes, we’ve only lived in our own home for 1 of those weeks, but something special is happening here.
God has slowed me down, quieted my soul.
I’m sitting on my front balcony, and it’s big enough that, when I’m sitting closer to the door than our railing, I can’t see the street (we’re on the third floor). And at 10:11 on a Saturday morning, it is decidedly NOT quiet. Construction all around, moto engines revving, people hollering, horns beeping, things being called out on a loudspeaker. When my children call out to me from inside the screen door, I yell back, “I CANNOT HEAR YOU! DO YOU REMEMBER HOW LOUD IT IS OUT HERE?”
Yet, somehow, there is still quiet. Inside of me.
Many things are harder, many things are less convenient, many things take more time/effort than they did back in America.
Yet, somehow, quiet. Slow. I’m not getting much done, but it feels okay.
When we aren’t shopping for food or looking for sheets or meeting up with old friends or making new ones or playing soccer with sweet girls and boys or working on projects to bring in money (which sounds like a lot but has somehow not seemed like it), I’ve been spending a lot of time with God.
And I’ve re-read two of my favorite books. The first: Notes from a Blue Bike by my online friend, Tsh Oxenreider. It’s all about slowing down, living intentionally, simplifying. (yes, please) And I wanted to read it for the first time as an ex-pat (someone living in a country that’s not their passport country). I finished it in 2 days, and it was a beautiful experience. Now, instead of longing to be living in Cambodia as I read, I’M LIVING IN CAMBODIA. (What in the world?!)
God spoke to me a lot while I was reading it. Soft whispers that said, “See? I told you I would bring you here. This is home. You belong here. I’m with you. Every minute, I’m with you.”
Just now, I’m on the media section where Jen realizes how much of her time is filled with TV and internet-surfing and texting and what have you. Two weeks in to her media fast, she is loving the time she and God are spending together. And realizing that he’s been there waiting all along; she just fills her time with other things.
She reads Micah 6:8, a favorite of mine and the seed verse of our home church back in Ohio. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
I paused in my reading and wrote in my journal that I’ve got “act justly” and “love mercy” down. Check & check. But the “walk humbly with God” part has been lacking. Not that I’m not humble (except when I’m not humble), but I’m thinking humble as in quiet & simple & often & just being with God and listening to him. A little less action, a little more being still.
And then I kept reading Jen’s words and laughed. Same same.
“Without the noise and static, I’m learning about that walk humbly part. Frankly, justice and mercy are my first languages; I’m a doer. Acting justly satisfies the deep part of me that so wants a happier, safer, kinder earth. I feel productive with a task, a list, a project, a mission… But God is teaching me to walk humbly–daily, simply, quietly. It’s in the walking humbly that God trains me for acting justly and loving mercy. Being aware of God’s presence is a powerful catalyst for courage later.” (p. 105)
We have a couple weeks left before we start language school, and that’s how I feel. I want to soak up God’s presence now, so I’ll have courage later for the hard stuff to come. (I also just want to soak up God’s presence just because.)
Life is slower here. We hang our laundry to dry. We’ve mopped more in one week than I’ve mopped in all of my entire life (we’ll see how my lackadaisical domestic abilities work out here). We buy groceries one day at a time.
We walk everywhere. To the market. To eat lunch. To visit friends.
So, in many ways, I’ve got it easy-peasy. My situation & circumstances are set up perfectly for me to slow down and walk humbly with my God. It’s a lot harder in America. A LOT harder. I’ve been chatting with a dear friend who is struggling with that big-time right now. Knowing God has opened her eyes and heart to some pretty big justice kind of things, but also realizing how darn hard it is to paddle upstream in the culture around her.
Maybe you can relate? In my extra time, I would love to pray for you. You can leave your request here or email me.
And I highly recommend both of those books (they’re #afflinks, so a portion of your purchase price will go into our Amazon account) as inspiration to slow down, simplify, back out of the rat race, and draw closer to Jesus.
Love and hugs from Cambodia, friends.