Much of the inspiration in my writing comes from experiences in my own life or from what I have observed or learnt from others or read. I regard myself as a spiritual person, in terms of my faith, but want that spiritually to infiltrate what I do practically in my life. I desire to be a person who doesn’t just talk the talk but also walk the talk! I don’t always get it right, but try to remind myself it is my desire to be authentic.
One of my favourite writers is Michael Hyatt ( michaelhyatt.com ) who is the ex chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers ( thomasnelson.com ) amongst the top 10 publishers in the USA. Michael is an established and popular author and inspires me tremendously. In a recent blog he entitled “When you realise you’re living in a bubble”, he spoke about the trap we can fall into of getting wrapped up in the “Bubble” of life we can find ourselves in.
He went on; ” We realised we pretty much lived in a ‘constructed reality’. I had a beautiful wife, five amazing daughters, and a great job. We were prosperous and comfortable. I didn’t realize I lived in a bubble. We went on a week-long missions trip to rural Ethiopia, led by Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision. The poverty was astonishing. We met people who survived on a few dollars a month, others who walked ten miles a day just to get water for their family, and children who had become orphans when their parents had died of AIDS. Despite all of that, the Ethiopian people remained joyful in the midst of unrelenting hardship. My friend Max Lucado, who was traveling with us, commented, “There are more honest smiles among the poor of Ethiopia than the shopping malls of America. So true.”
Michael’s blog, as always, was well written and relevant to our times. It had me considering my life and whether, despite having spent the past 24 years of my life in missions, I also find myself in a “constructed reality bubble”. I say this because in December last year my wife and I moved from the tiny country of Lesotho, our mission field we had served in for our previous 15 years, to what I regard as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town, at the Southern tip of Africa. Cape Town is wonderful, scenic, with a temperate climate (save for 2 very stormy months normally around July and August), majestic in its beauty with a well managed environment in the most part. However hidden within this beauty, as with the rest of South Africa, is the legacy of the apartheid system from just over 18 years ago, along with the provincial government’s struggles to manage the disparity between the have’s and have not’s of this land.
As beautiful as this city is, the recent torrential rains, freezing temperatures and gale force winds that give this tip of Africa the name Cape of Storms, exposed once again, the huge gap between 1st and 3rd world in this breathtaking part of the planet. But what really had me pondering (I’m known to do this), was a cartoon in our local paper depicting our suburb of Fish Hoek during the stormy weather. The cartoon (not sure if tongue in cheek or not) surely touched on something deep for most people living here.
Some living in a “constructed reality bubble” may have thought of an item close to the heart left outside…possibly a special chair, bicycle, perhaps even a pet or other cherished item. Others may have watched the news, read the paper (including the cartoon) and wondered if they have forgotten something else outside. Perhaps though, the people of Masiphumalele have been on some of the minds of those “in the bubble” . This settlement was reportedly the worst hit during the recent storms, the entire area, including formal houses amongst the shacks, being flooded. A comment from a spokesperson for the community asked “How many more years must this continue? These people are not fish, they are human beings. I am hoping and praying the City will be able to provide alternative land for the people”
I know our response may be that its the government’s job to take care of the people of Masiphumalele and to an extent that’s true. However I was touched by Michael Hyatts response after Ethiopia and thoughts of our own in missions over 24 years. Michael said on his return :
“I didn’t know what my experience in Ethiopia would mean for our future. I didn’t know if I should quit my job and move to Africa, sell my possessions and give the money to the poor, or stay put. Most of all, I didn’t want to be sucked back into the bubble of a comfortable life. Over time, we worked through the implications of this experience for our lives. Not that we have it all figured out. We don’t. But we are working hard to make decisions that are counter-cultural and require courage. In short, being comfortable is no longer enough. We want to make a contribution—in time and for eternity.”
Whilst serving in missions we adopted a phrase for those whose lives had been severely changed as a result of “walking across the room” and experiencing face to face the reality of others hardships. It was being “spoiled for the ordinary” and mostly resulted in a discomfort of living in the “Bubble” as described by Michael Hyatt. Surely we too have a role to play by stepping out of our “bubble” in doing what we can for people living in places like Masiphumalele.
Are we willing to be one of those shaken up, yet transformed by, confronting the world’s most difficult challenges. But it will take courage. As Michael says;
This requires sacrifice, but the sense of significance you get is well worth the cost. And if you’re ready to do this—to live the life you’re afraid of—here’s what you need to do next:
- Admit you’re living in a bubble.
- Step out of your comfort zone.
- Put yourself into a situation that will require courage.
Then see how you grow. You might be surprised at just how alive you feel.
How about you and I…… have we forgotten anything outside ?