Sunday, June 1, 2008

Behaving in Canaan

Before I left the USA, my pastor gave me a letter with a Bible verse he thought I should meditate on as I embarked on my great adventure. I have repeatedly had that verse come back to me over the three months that I've been here, and it has actually become the summary of my life here:

"You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes." ~Leviticus 18:3

Many times here (and even back in the US), I have felt somewhat like a relic from a bygone era. It seems sometimes like everyone I meet is living exactly as they choose to, with no thought to God's desires or commands. I've met many professing to be Christians, but honestly, I can't tell them apart from the non-Christians. They talk the same way, party just as hard, and give just as little care to morality. I am in no way perfect, and I'm certainly guilty of plenty of sins, but it feels sometimes like I'm the only one bothered by it, or the only one worrying about morals anymore.

I got really discouraged the other night, convinced that I was an island. I thought back to the verse my pastor had given me, as well as a few others, and it encouraged me. I guess not many Christians follow the nomadic life I'm leading (moving about from place to place), so it's little wonder that I haven't run into any. Many people think the Old Testament is dead and good only for historical study, but I'm learning firsthand just how applicable it is. Canaan is just as real today as it was then, only now it is everywhere. It's not limited to one discernible location.

I'm in Canaan now, but I'm still living the way I'm supposed to. Don't think that I'm bragging here, or setting myself up as more righteous than anyone else. I've just been shown a lot of grace, and it makes it easier for me to do what I know is right and to avoid what I know is wrong. I still have my slip-ups, but I always somehow land either on my feet or on my knees. I miss having the community of other sincere Christians around me for support, but I think this experience of separation is vital to making me stronger. One's Christianity should not be dependant on other Christians, but solely on God. To my fellow believers who follow this blog, please pray that I can keep on doing right.

[Please note: I have met many sincere Korean Christians (who unfortunately speak very little English), so my remarks here are referring only to other foreigners that I have met. I am not in any way calling Korea Canaan, or questioning the sincerity of Korean Christians - although obviously they, like all Christians everywhere in the world, fight the daily battle with sin, and do give in sometimes. I don't want any misunderstandings to arise from this blog entry.]

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"