I’m sitting on a roof in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
An incredible perch, to say the least.
John and I are here visiting our youngest, Debbie, and her team, who’ve been ministering to student athletes in the university system in Puerto Rico. I’ve never been here before, and I’m overwhelmed by sights and sounds so different from what I’m used to.
It’s America–and it’s not.
Everything moves more slowly. Driving short distances, getting food at restaurants, having questions answered all take time. The pace is unhurried. The focus is more on people and relationships than activity. The heat and humidity steam life on low. The only thing percolating here is the coffee.
I rather like the pace.
It’s an island of huge contrasts.
Sitting on the roof of a lovely home, the ocean sparkles before me. From a distance, the colors are deep, bright, vibrant. The breeze blows, the birds have varied songs. Idyllic.
But getting a little closer to the road, closer to life, I can see the difference. The haves and the have-nots are separated by a chasm of socioeconomic difference. Shacks co-exist with mansions.
The island itself is at risk of bankruptcy. There aren’t many good jobs here for the students graduating from college. But family is important.
Life is tough.
So many of the students that Debbie and her friends work with have challenges that my kids haven’t had to face. Things over which these students have no control.
Come to think of it, there are several crises my kids haven’t had to deal with. Issues that haven’t been part of the story of our lives.
John and I are still together. We’re a team, and we understand marriage is work. But I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else. I love the guy more now than I did when we first married.
Our kids have been able to participate in activities that helped them grow and develop as people. All six played soccer. A great team sport that taught them much about working together with others even if you don’t get along well. Success happened when everyone gave their best.
They have their health. None of them have been blessed with a special need that has caused them to need special services or uniquely trained people in their lives.
We’ve had our share of crises. Some have been hugely impactful. Life changing. We’ve not avoided the pain, the sadness, the heartache, the loss that life brings everyone.
Sorrow is universal.
But I’ve seen the joy knowing God can bring, even in the midst of sorrow.
Debbie and her friends have shared how students here have begun relationships with Jesus. How they’re finding hope in a world that’s unfair.
That’s the hope we all need. The big picture of God Who is greater than us.
When I look closely at life, I see the blemishes and bruises. The hurts and injustices.
When I look at the promises of God, I’m awed by the hope He gives. By what He offers that the world can’t understand.
That’s a perch I can be comfortable with. No matter where I am.
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