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I pause for a harsh, quick prayer – the kind I would never say out loud – and then shake my laptop’s power cord again. I flip the switch and hope to see the magic little light that signals the arrival of electricity.


It stopped working on Monday – no warning, no false starts to alert me of its unhappiness. Just died. A brief moment of electricity’s return gave me the chance to rescue recent files not backed up elsewhere.

Then nothing but a black screen. A cord that refuses to deliver power.

I begin to moan like Job – “Why me, God? Why me? Did you not like all the time I was spending on Facebook? Was I wasting too much time reading random articles? I can cut back on that… Just let me have my laptop back…”

These were not my finest moments.

This really isn’t the place to get a laptop cord fixed. I’m in the middle of nowhere South Asia. I’m living on a compound housing community service programs and a giant hospital – both of which serve the poor, rural villages that are scattered out for miles like shriveled beans that fell out of a ripped bag.

It’s hot. It climbs up just a little higher each day – 110, 111, 112. Standing, talking on the phone, I can feel sweat drip off the end of my elbow. I’m drinking six liters of water a day and just breaking even. The only time it’s cooled off was a day last week when it rained. We danced in it – all of us grown adults – reveling in the cold drops on our faces.

Today, on the hottest day yet, which just happens to be my birthday, I think of that rainstorm. “A rainstorm would be a nice present for my birthday,” I say to God… a thought implying since you decided to take away my laptop.

This is not my finest moment.

All day I wait for it. A gift. Something big and audacious. A birthday present from God. It seems the least He can do since He’s timed things for me to spend my birthday far from friends, living with near-strangers, and in an environment where time and work stop for nothing – even birthdays.

I ignore the little things – the rare marvel of green peppers found in the vegetable market to put into tomorrow’s salsa, a generous new friend who’s letting me borrow her laptop, the wonder of being on the inside of an inside joke delivered in Hindi. These are not good enough, I’ve decided.

So I wait for a miraculously repaired laptop. A rainstorm. The temperature to drop thirty degrees. The surprise and spontaneous arrival of friends from a far-flung place.


This is not my finest moment.

I give up on suggesting birthday presents to God and fling myself into my current book – With by Skye Jethani. And I read:

 … when most people hear or think about God, they have a less than complete, and sometimes entirely flawed, vision of who he is. As a result, they do not tend to desire him. At best they see him as a useful instrument for achieving something more desirous. But if their vision were enlarged and corrected, if they could see his unrivaled beauty, grasp his unconditional love, perceive his radiant glory, and experience his untainted goodness, then it would become obvious that he is much more than a deity to simply tolerate or a device to employ. In other words, God would cease to be how we acquire our treasure, and he would become our treasure.

And I hear God sigh the long sigh of a teacher who’s finally made His student understand.

“When did I stop being enough for you?” He asks and I flinch at the sorrow in His voice. “When will you delight again in the massive wonder that is simply my presence?”

That is present enough, I decide.

Happy Birthday.