Have you ever sat up close to your bedroom window, watching fresh fire cracks of lightening dance across the sky?
I have been doing that a lot lately. The storms at night in Bangkok are very beautiful. I can sit for hours and watch them. There's a peacefulness that comes.
The past ten days of my life have been very intense. Early last week, the building beside our condo exploded into flames in the middle of the night. As I watched the emergency crews rescuing neighbors from the smoke and flames, I realized: I have a very interesting life.
It humbles me, constantly. I felt ridiculously small and helpless, as I stood alone in a dirty alleyway, beside the fire that had reached deep into the Bangkok night. I felt terrified but still very lucky, blessed and safe, as the near-death-experience of my neighbours unfolded in front of me. Every one was carried safely through the flames by five very brave firemen. But the devastation was very real when we woke up in the morning. Many of the people next door were sleeping on mats in the street. There was nowhere else to go.
A few days later, one of my friends flew out of Tokyo just hours before the earthquake and tsunami hit. He walk away, unscathed. And like everyone, I've been reading the papers every day, terrified and heartbroken by the suffering unfolding in Japan. I am also amazed by the men and women who are exposing themselves to radiation, which will cost them their lives, so that we do not have a full-blown nuclear catastrophe.
And then last weekend, a woman told me about the recent rescue of a fifteen year old Cambodian girl who was sold into slavery in Malaysia. Since hearing her story, I've been reading about women who have had similar life tragedies and rescues. The pattern is the same. In the midst of the most devastating circumstances, hope rises and a life torn apart by pain is given a new beginning.
I honestly do not know what to think about all these rescues. The world is obviously not a safe place, and yet there are those who would risk their own lives to make it safe for someone else. For the sake of others, even strangers, they would go through anything. It is something that I can't quite get my head around.
In the midst of all of this near-death and needing-to-be-rescued, I spent last weekend picking mangos in the mountains, exploring waterfalls and streams, biking through vineyards and tasting new wine. I am ridiculously safe and have been enjoying every blessing under the sun.
I am flying to Cambodia tomorrow. My plan is to spend some time with new friends in Phnom Penh. We'll celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I'll head up to Siem Riep to see Angkor Wat and visit the fishing villages at Tonle Sap for two days. If there's time, I'll do some fishing. And then I'll head back to Phnom Penh and home to Bangkok on Sunday.
Please pray that I continue to walk in that ridiculous safety. My peace is found in the midst of all these storms.
"A thousand may fall at her side, ten thousand at her right hand, but it will not come near her." - Psalm 91.