Have you ever been in a place where you are on the brink of believing that your current situation is just fully and solely wrecked? That there is absolutely no way for any beauty to emerge from it? Have you ever been in a place where you begin to doubt those who say there are always two sides of a coin? That in fact, both sides are only filled with pain and sorrows?
If you have, I’d ask you to read on and give me the benefit of the doubt that maybe (just maybe) what I am about to say might be true. Or at least, gives you a tad bit of encouragement and strength for you to keep pushing forward in the midst of whatever you are going through. I’d say it was something significant I was reminded of during my trip as we sail through the Flores Sea to the beautiful islands of Indonesia in the East Nusa Tenggara.
Just to bring you guys up to speed, I was on a 3D2N live-on-board sailing trip the past weekend, where we extended a night each before and after the trip at Labuan Bajo. We went as a group of seven and were guided by a tour guide and a boat crew of five. If there is one word to describe the trip, it would be jaw-dropping. I was literally awestruck by the beauty and the grand vastness of the place I can proudly call home, Indonesia. The trip involves some sort of strenuous and demanding activities, such as hiking up the rocky and sometimes slippery mountains, swimming in the open sea against the current for an hour or so, taking shower with a filtered salt water straight from the sea, and of course being sunburnt after hours and hours under the scorching heat. Though I’ve realized this kind of vacation can be draining and absolutely unsustainable, especially for me and those whose pet peeve is wet and dirty toilets, I did not have the slightest regret that I experienced what I experience as it really gives me a whole new perspective of the beauty of Indonesia.
Up to date, it has been just a short of three weeks since I’ve gone back to Indonesia. Aside from the company of friends and family back here, it is quite challenging to boldly say that this place is beautiful (at least physically). Coming from the civil engineering viewpoint (yes, I just graduated! haha), most streets of Indonesia, or Jakarta in particular, bear a level of service grade of D or worse, there are not enough properly-built sidewalks to encourage people to travel on foot and many other things you can grumble about. Pollution. No blue skies in sight. Congestion. Haze. You name it. And so, for now I have reached to a point where I can say that this place ain’t pretty.
This thought was challenged when I was on this sailing trip – that I myself do not have the ability to see the bigger picture. Yes, though I have seen the unpleasing side of Indonesia, it just recently revealed to me its magnificent beauty too lost for words as I spent three days out in the ocean. I realized that this world was made by a great God who sees the bigger picture, and too many times when we are placed in a corner of what we call ‘the ugly’, we tend to dwell in what’s broken and what’s not working. I realized that it takes hard work to actually get to an elevation high enough up on the mountains that allow us to have a better view of the horizon. Of course, I can instead just stay on the boat, miss the opportunity to peek at ‘the beautiful’ corner of Indonesia and keep on grumbling about how aesthetically unappealing my country is. But which of the two options are you going to choose?
Are you facing the dark corner of your life right now? Are you in a place of hopelessness as you go through the season of ‘ugliness’ in your life? Are you feeling helpless as you are struck by ash after ash? Are you starting to doubt the saying suggesting that there will always be beauty that comes out of ashes? Friends, let us mourn for the brokenness in our lives, and yet not dwell in them for too long. Let us put on our gears and explore God’s goodness and the beauty He has already prepared for us. It takes effort and perseverance to reach such place where we can get a clear vision of His sovereignty. The beauty is already there – He has made it all – we just have to open our eyes and search for them. It won’t be an easy-peasy journey, in fact, it will be a tough one. But trust me, it is a beauty worth striving for. A beauty worth searching for.
“Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”
Tons of love,
PS. Let me show you the beauty of my home country, Indonesia! Here are some snapshots from my trip to Labuan Bajo. Hope you loved them as much as I do!
(Photo credits to Arley, Cavin and the crew)