Our Greater Reality


Last updated 7/27/2013 at 6:30pm

My husband is retiring in a few weeks. We sold our home and purchased a truck and fifth wheel. We plan to take a few months to visit family and friends and volunteer at Eagles’ Cove Ministry Centre near Thunder Bay, Ontario. I am looking forward to seeing people we have known over the years, and this time we don’t have to rush back to work.

I am sorting and packing. Yesterday I looked back through decades of journals and read an English essay I wrote when I was 16. The essay’s title was “Know Thyself.” I wrote about how I didn’t like myself because I was too fat (Oh, I wish I could be that slender again!).

I was shy and wasn’t good at anything. I’d love to have the strength, energy, and quick mind I had back then. What a miserable paper! I wasted too much time at the pity party. I read back through journals where I feared people and poverty. We were poor, so I understand, but I am amazed at how God took care of us. I would not have worried so much if I would have been able to see my history from here (I wouldn’t have made the same mistakes either). One thing that stood out to me, though, was my clouded concept of reality.

Recently, I gave a friend a ride to the bank. The young man is a refugee who had been imprisoned and tortured in Afghanistan for becoming a Christian. As we drove along the wooded street with flower laden medians, I asked about his country. All I had seen on TV was a barren landscape and violence. I asked why the people liked being there. He said, “They have to live there; they don’t know anything else. They have never seen Europe and North America.”

Then, I watched a news documentary on TV about a brutal gulag-style labor camp in North Korea called Camp 14. Shin Dong-hyak was born in that camp and lived there for 23 years. His parents were simply put together by the authorities to breed more slaves. The camp’s purpose was to work political dissidents and their families to death.

Mr. Shin was so hungry that he picked corn kernels from cow manure. He reported his mother and brother to the authorities for stealing food. He thought he would be given something to eat for his information. He regrets his action because both were executed.

The interviewer asked if he had tried to escape earlier. He said, “No, I thought everywhere was like this—just more camps.” After he learned about the outside world from a new prisoner, he escaped.

I feel like God is trying to show me something. Perhaps my concept of reality is too focused on what I see and feel in my little world. I think about my “stuff,” my disability in walking, where we will eventually settle, and on and on, but I don’t want to do the same thing today that I did when I was 16.

I think I will focus on God’s Word that encourages me to move forward in confidence. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

© Sue Carlisle 2013. Sue Carlisle is a member of the Ponca tribe and spent much of her youth on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Her passion is to encourage people to look at creation and see our awesome Creator.


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