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Island Fever

He set eternity in the human heart; yet no man can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

scooter ride in IndonesiaThe other day I tried explaining the term “island fever” to one of my best friends as we drove to a reservoir.

“Island fever,” I said. “Is there a term for it in Indonesian? It’s when you’ve been in a small space for too long and need to get away.”

“You mean ‘claustrophobia’?” she asked. She’s claustrophobic and hates riding in cars.

“Yes!” I said, “Exactly like claustrophobia. Except the whole island feels like a car that you need to get out of, but you can’t because it’s surrounded by water.”

As I was saying the words, I realized that the concept of island fever must sound strange to someone from an island nation. But she nodded and laughed. “Tarakan feels small to me because I’m from Java. It must feel very small compared to America.”

Yes. Yes it does.

Part of the reason I was drawn to living overseas is because I love to travel and see new things and meet new people. I like big and wonder and possibility. What I honestly didn’t consider was that “even the ends of the earth” might be a very small place that, on a day-to-day level, feels less like an adventure as it does claustrophobia.

My friend had never been to the reservoir before, and it was fun to show her someplace new. And as we looped the path around the water while the sun set, and as we talked about life and God and ideas and dreams, I felt the fever start to break. Eternity goes into two directions. You can multiply and multiply and never get to the end, but you also can divide and divide and never stop. Maybe I came with a desire to do something bigger and greater. But now that I’m here, I’m learning to go deeper.


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