For the Days You’re Out of Gas

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Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Rebecca Hopkins’ blog, Borneo Wife, when she and her husband served in Indonesia. She now blogs from her new American home at www.rebeccahopkins.org–and don’t miss her latest article on Christianity Today, The Missionary Kids are Not Alright.” 

 

Hot day. Six stores. No battery available anywhere for our generator.

“Remember that day when we drove across Arizona right before we left for Indonesia?” Brad said as we got back into our steamy car (the air conditioning wasn’t working) after stop number six.

He pulled out onto the narrow road, motorbikes buzzing around us in our small town on this tiny island in Indonesia.

I tried to look past the problems around me to that clear, cool day almost eight years ago. We’d driven on wide roads laid across orange glowing land, returning to our organization’s headquarters for a couple of months’ training before leaving for Indonesia.

The possibilities back then seemed like the sky: endless.

Why hello, Reality

Each year, living on this small island has seemed to get harder—logistically anyway. The gas stations experience almost daily shortages. And when they have gas, the wait to get it ranges from a half hour to two hours—usually closer to two hours. And even then, we are only allowed half a tank of gas.

The electric company has us on rolling blackouts for several hours a day, two to three times a week. And those are just the scheduled ones.

Every day and almost every night, the house’s power goes dead for some unknown amount of time for yet another outage. And I sit with my 8-month pregnant belly, sweltering in still air with a generator that I can’t start, and that is empty anyway. Of gas.

Some days—many days lately—it seems like we live to buy gas. Gas for our car, for our generator, for our stove. We spend our days just trying to keep things running. To keep ourselves running.

And often, everything seems impossible.

It was Impossible to find a battery. Impossible to make dinner with my empty gas bottle. Impossible to get sleep at night with sniffly kids or get a nap with a 2-year-old who thinks she’s done with them.

“Help”

My prayers these days are short, the fogginess of my anemic brain chasing away the eloquent, leaving behind the urgent.

“Give me patience for my kids!”

“Help me find gas!”

“Keep away the nausea so I can make a simple dinner!”

“Fill me with your love for the people we serve!”

And on that hot search for the battery, the prayer, “Help me to see the possible again!”

And then the grace comes. In the midst of the impossible, I see the little things.

My son, who prays for others with genuine simplicity. The chance to hold the hand of an elderly neighbor who is dying. The husband who sees and cares and tells me to go sit and rest.

The chance to become weak so I can rely on His strength.

And my small faith grows deeper as I run out of my own gas and fill up on His goodness.

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