I wrote this post on May 15, 2017 while in a Himalayan mountain village.
A terrifying combination. You see, joy is a beautiful thing. It enables you to love the broken, it brings life in the darkest of moments, and it allows a servant heart in the most stretching of times.
I’m a traveler at heart. I have dreams to traverse the earth, live in culture, and experience ways of life currently foreign to me.
My current journey is one through the Himalayan mountains of South East Asia. One of my favourite things God has been teaching me is to observe. To sit and watch. To lean back and see what’s happening around me, not just see what’s happening to me.
I spend hours each week just sitting and seeing. I see the people, the farmer with calloused hands pushing a plow through his new field, a young boy running off to school with his little sister trailing behind, the stray goat climbing the mountainside, my student quietly reading her bible off in the field. I’ve come to a deeper understanding of the grandness of this world, not just in size but in beauty and culture.
There is a way of life that to the Western mind is impossible and unliveable. Our only attempt into this culture is through our own humanitarian and justice focused media that feeds us pictures of war torn countries and malnutritioned kids. We send some petty cash in hopes of satisfying our selfish need to feel like we’re “making a difference” while remaining inside our heated homes with fuzzy blankets and pop tarts (now don’t fuss, I have nothing against either of those…I’m actually convinced they are both blessings from above).
There is a lesson I’ve learned however over the last 2 years of travelling to 5 of these countries and the lesson is this:
What the media portrays of these countries can be true, there is conflict and poverty. However, they are not nations unliveable and void of all joy.
And this is why: Joy is not a circumstantial emotion. It does not ebb and flow like the ocean tide. Let’s call the ocean happiness and the shoreline joy. Joy stays firm. The ocean tides can rise and fall but the shoreline remains.
When you determine your emotions based on your circumstances and current living conditions, you will never truly be satisfied because your heart will constantly be searching for the next attainable happiness.
When you base your emotions on the truth that Jesus is good and His love never fails, there you will find joy. Understanding that God is in control and He is always with me, has enabled me to live in remote Himalayan villages for almost all of the last 2.5 months, have maybe 6 showers in that time, search for massive spiders every night before bed, and live in it all with immense joy. Joy in knowing that I am okay, joy in knowing that Jesus has a beautiful plan, joy in the opportunity to take part in this foreign culture, joy to observe the ways of people different than me.
My hope is that you will find joy in the moment. Joy at the dinner table, the office desk, and the running track. Joy in the smiles, in the laughter, in the little things. True joy is from God alone and He will never leave you nor forsake you.
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