I wrote this piece for a Lake Ave. church publication, but thought it would be appropriate to include here. I have been contemplating just what expectations, hopes, and fears I have for my time in Cambodia, and this is one result. Enjoy...
Anticipation is a funny thing. Undoubtedly, the more we want something, the longer it takes to arrive. When we dread what is coming, it is usually upon us without warning. I have been living in a state of expectation for the past few months, and in my experience, it is both exhilarating and frightening.
Just under a year ago, I traveled with a Lake Avenue IMPACT team to teach English to World Relief staff in Cambodia. I was excited to join the team of volunteers, and anticipated that we would have fun, teach, and encounter difficult circumstances. I did not expect to be touched deeply by a country and a people. The students we taught, the individuals we met, and the spirit of God completely transformed my outlook on service and mission. I witnessed so much poverty, heartache, and even hope that upon coming home, I anticipated returning to Cambodia.
Approximately four months ago, I accepted a new job—as the church partnership coordinator for World Relief Cambodia. As I write this I am one month away from boarding a plane with my few belongings and departing for a two year stay in Phnom Penh. The choice to apply, the process of interviewing, and the preparation to go have filled me with anticipation and expectation. I intermittently desire to be in Cambodia as soon as possible, to start working, to begin serving. Then I realize the consequences of leaving and I long for just a bit more time with my friends and community here.
Warehouse spent the season of Lent contemplating prayer. We fasted and petitioned the Lord on behalf of ourselves and others. We explored the nature of prayer as a relationship and as a discipline. There were opportunities during our service to practice prayer corporately and in solitude. In those forty-odd days, our community confronted the purpose and the consequence of being in conversation with our God. To me, it was an exercise in anticipation.
We know that God hears us, the Bible tells us so. We know that God acts in our world, the Word declares it and we see it with our own eyes. Yet there exists a space between approaching and asking the Lord in prayer and the appearance of the answer. This chasm can only be defined as expectation. This can be a frustrating prospect, when we feel as though our petitions go unanswered, when our waiting seems interminable. In Lent, we meet these doubts by reflecting on the preparation that Christ undertook to answer His calling on earth. We honor His walk to the cross and our own hope for the resurrection. We live in anticipation of what Good Friday and Easter will mean for our faith and our world.
For me, this Lenten season was a powerful exercise in waiting. Caught between staying and going, I began to identify with Christ in a new way. How does one pray in the garden of Gethsemane hours before being separated from friends, fully expecting the trial that is ahead? What does it mean to walk the road to Calvary in anticipation of what waits there? Only on the other side of the resurrection does the life of Christ make sense. The anticipation of despair is met with overwhelming joy at the empty tomb, when we behold the thing we least expect—a risen Savior. As I prepare and await the fulfillment of my expectations for life in Cambodia, I take comfort in the Psalmist’s words: “I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27: 13-14, NIV). Anticipation is a glorious thing, particularly when it is in the hands of the living God.