Reflections: Any Place Will Do

Our Reflections series is an opportunity for OMF missionaries and staff to share thoughts about life in service to Christ.

By David Sheahan

One day, slogging through jet lag after arriving back in Thailand, I opened Robert Louis Stevenson’s Essays on Travel to find the following insight:

“I have often been tempted to put forth the paradox that any place is good enough to live a life in…For, if we only stay long enough, we become at home in the neighborhood. Reminiscences spring up, like flowers, about uninteresting corners. We forget to some degree the superior loveliness of other places, and fall into a tolerant and sympathetic spirit which is its own reward and justification.”

The psychology of settling into a new place is indeed subtle, and even more so when the settling involves crossing a linguistic and cultural divide. But culture shock (forward or reverse) will not prevail, and not because we design battle plans against it! If we only stay long enough we become at home in the neighborhood—and that makes it good enough to live in.

On another point, however, I found myself in disagreement with the essayist. In the same book he gives very particular advice about where we should live. In his essay The Ideal House he says, “It must be open to the east, or you will miss the sunrise; sunset occurring so much later, you can go up a few steps and look the other way.”

I sat reading those words in our Thai home that has a total of three windows, each facing west—facing west directly into the taller concrete wall of our neighbor’s house! I read the words and shook my head. As much as God blesses through sunrises and sunsets, it is often obviously not possible to build our houses around them—or any other blessing God promises.

That is not a problem. God’s blessings find us even when we are not poised to find them! Any place will do for these gracious encounters! Any neighborhood, any culture, any constrained position or state we find ourselves in.

Author Bio

Since 1990 David and Anne Sheahan have served on the OMF Thailand field in church planting and leadership development. Currently they are filling a role on the US Member Care team, based in Madison, WI.

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