Saturday, June 11, 2011

Heaven On Earth

Traveling from Papua back to the United States is always a bit of a Twilight Zone experience.  I'm convinced if I took most Papuans and whisked them off to America, they would believe that they had died and gone to heaven.  At least until they figured out that they can't get sago here.  Everything works, everything is new, everything is sterile, so many options, so much wealth, so much fun stuff to do.  On the surface there don't appear to be any problems.  And that is a problem.

Perhaps the feeling of stepping into utopia was a bit more intense for us this time...the tropical disease department took one last parting shot at Cameron and gave him dengue fever on the first leg of our journey. If you think malaria is bad, try dengue on for size.  Google it.  He was one sick little boy.

So stepping into a world where the skeeters aren't out to kill you feels a bit like paradise.  Of course, it probably didn't help that we got off the airplane and went straight into the beautiful Amish countryside of northern Indiana.

Jet lag made sure I was up well ahead of beautiful Amish sunrises like this one.

As we made this transition, I was camped out in Luke chapter 14.  Jesus tells a story of a guy who is going to throw a party so that he can enjoy just being with his good friends.  Well in advance, he invites the guys he normally hangs with to the bash--our man is obviously looking forward to this.  The time for the party arrives and he finds that none of his friends are coming.  What strikes me with some force is that every one of them is engaged in an activity that they find more fun, more interesting, more engaging than being with their close friend.  One guy has got some new wheels (ok, they were oxen back in the day) and wants to try them out.  Another wants to spend time with his significant other.  The point is clear: our man's friends have something that has captivated them more than enjoying their relationship with him.

And, to be quite honest, this is my lifelong struggle...but it is particularly acute as I transition back to the United States of Utopia.  How do you people do it?  600 channels on TV.  Starbucks on every corner.  Wireless internet everywhere.  Parks.  Libraries.  Museums.  Sporting events.  Concerts.  iPhones.  iPads.  iEverything.  This stuff beats new oxen by a mile--how on earth do you not find all of this more fascinating than sitting down in a quiet place and spending time with Jesus?