If you have ever been on commercial airliner you are probably in the know; the middle seat is the least desirable place to sit on a plane. This is especially true when your departure time is 2am, and all you want is opportunity to stretch out, get comfortable, and string together a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. By my experience this is an unattainable goal when you are stuck in the middle.
Interestingly, every one of our nine team members from TAC has found themselves in a middle seat, apart from team mates, and wedged between strangers. As I have sat in the dark cabin contemplating our circumstances, I have to wonder if the middle is right where God wants us to be, embracing discomfort for a purpose bigger than ourselves. Perhaps this is a taste of what it means to be on mission, accepting inconvenience for the sake of opportunity, so that Christ may be made known and the gospel go forth.
As I write this, Philippians 2:3-8 comes mind. "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
Jesus, the one who is worthy of the very best, took it upon himself to embrace the very worst, for the good of others and for the glory of His Heavenly Father. Jesus modelled for us "life in the middle", and calls us to be like him, embracing discomfort so that the gospel will go forth. And as we do, we discover that we are not stuck after all....we are right where God wants us to be.
As we continue on this adventure I have a growing anticipation for what God may do in us and through us as we experience both the horror and the beauty of Cambodia. Each day will bring mixed blessings; joy mingled with tears, celebration tempered by sorrow and hope in the midst of hardship. Please keep us in your prayers.
Breakfast will soon be served on our flight....Fish Floss (not sure what that is) or an omelette and turkey sausage...hmmm, tough choice. Our next stop is in Taipei airport, then on to the heat and humidity of Phnom Penh.
On behalf of the 2016 Cambodia Team, Paul Papworth