I’ve heard it said that the greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances. Life teaches us that things are not always what they seem. An illusion is simply another way of describing a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses.
How many times have we not judged a book by its cover? How many times have we wrongly accused a person or incorrectly judged a situation? I’m sure if we are honest, we can all attest to this.
We can be extremely oblivious of the unknown or the inexperienced. For instance, prior to traveling to a third-world country for the first time at the age of 18, I imagined the families would be distraught due to poverty and lack of resources. I thought they would be in a depressed state desperate to figure out how they would make it through the day. But to my surprise, the opposite was true.
Now, in my first week in Nicaragua, I had the honor and privilege to reside with an amazing Pastoral Family from Nueva Vida. In the next paragraphs I hope to bring forth their beauty and share their world as I experienced it.
On January 27th, at 4 am, we drove on a dirt road towards the Pastoral family’s home. We had been driving for about 10 hours and had been at the Nicaraguan border for about 4 hours; needless to say, we were exhausted. I expected to see possibly the Pastor waiting for us at that time but as soon as we walked in, all four of them were somewhat awake delighted to see us.
They had gone out of their way to set up private sleeping quarters that took most of the space of what was their previous bedroom and part of their living room. They set up a bed in their kitchen area to sleep in, surrounded by blankets as a way of separating the rooms. My emotions were all over the place as I witnessed such selflessness and kindness.
See, their house was nothing like what I am accustomed to in America but for some reason, I felt right at home. As the days passed, I began to analyze them as a family unit and to intensely observe every detail of my surroundings.
Day 1: I was overdue for a shower. I grabbed my items and walked towards the bathroom located outside of the house. When I entered, there was a large bucket filled with water and it also contained a bowl to facilitate the bathing process. I said, ok this is different. By the third day, I was enjoying the simplicity of it. I was completely enamored by how natural it felt. I said to myself “self, you could definitely go off the grid and be happy”.
Day 2: Everyone was up early with the roosters, including their pet bunny, Snow. The entire family was gathering in the small kitchen space. Nobody had a phone in their hand; they were talking to each other, laughing together, and serving one another. What was even more remarkable was that there was no sense of urgency to do anything else but to be present in that moment. I noticed that they would maintain the areas clean, but they did not stress over every detail. Their possessions were not their priority, but they took great pride in serving us and every visitor that arrived at their humble home.
I felt more alive each passing day; simply content. There was no pressure to impress anyone or create a false image of what we think people want to experience while around us.
Many people build a materialistic empire hoping to find joy and happiness through it. They might have a large house with a white picket fence, two and a half children, and a dog, but be completely empty within. They might enjoy the finer things and live a luxurious lifestyle but lack quality of life. It all becomes a façade, smokescreens, and a masquerade. It all becomes an illusion.
With this, I am in no way discarding the benefits obtained through certain commodities. But what good is it to be successful in the eyes of men but lose our soul (Mark 8:36)? The essence of life is not found in the exterior. The essence of life is found in a heart that is fully dependent on God. Paul once said “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any way and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
Paul had found the secret to his contentment, knowing that he could do all things only through the One who gave his life for him.