"Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."
-- Psalm 37:4
My wife and I just returned from a two week mission trip to Ghana in West Africa. We were meeting with local Ghanaian and Togolese missionary families for training, teaching, and encouragement in their ministries. We had a wonderful trip, filled with opportunities for worship, prayer, Bible study, and inspiration.
We returned to the United States on Sunday, Sept. 21, and one of the first things we did when we unloaded our suitcases was to stand in the shower under a steady stream of hot water. Not only had we spent in the last 48 hours in airplanes and airports, but we also wanted to revel in the blessing of a hot shower.
It was one of many simple pleasures that we often take for granted. Here in the United States, we are among the most richly blessed human beings on the planet. But we wouldn't know it from our daily conversations or the advertising on television.
Daily, we are bombarded with messages about how much our lives are lacking if we do not own the latest iPhone or the most current computer system. Our teeth could always be whiter, our hair could be shinier, our car could be newer, and our clothes more fashionable.
On our trip, we had the opportunity to meet with people who may never have enjoyed a hot shower, but they were still happy. Their meals lacked the variety and nutrition we take for granted, but they were thankful for them. Their clothes were not as new or as clean as our, but they were still able to enjoy life and relationships with others. Their access to electricity was at best sporadic, at worst, nonexistent, but they still felt richly blessed.
They reminded me of how abundantly blessed I am, but how little I appreciate it. We are able to keep our food fresh in a refrigerator which they do not have, powered by electricity that they consider a luxury. And yet we often complain about not having anything to eat.
We have the opportunity to turn on the air conditioning when we get a little too warm. They would have difficulty even understanding the concept.
We have several closets, drawers, and tubs filled with clothes we do not wear more than three times a year. They might have three or four outfits that are patched, tattered, and threadbare, but they are happy to have them.
Our driveways and garages may have multiple vehicles, something that is beyond their comprehension.
And yet, many times, we feel that our lives are lacking and deficient.
I came home with a new appreciation of the blessings that I have. I have the benefit of having been born in America, with an education that exceeds the vast majority of the world's population. I have been blessed with a home, a family, health, good food, and more abundance than I know what to do with.
I hope that I can approach life with the same joy and enthusiasm as I witnessed in the men, women, and children of Ghana and Togo. Thank you, God, for helping to open my eyes.
BY PASTOR TIM NAPPE
HARBOR OF JOY LUTHERAN CHURCH, MILFORD