Sunday, March 17, 2013

Summarizing Four Months in One Post

It has been such a long time since I've been able to blog.  Four months . . . and actually, it feels in some ways like four years.  There's been so much to come to terms with and so much to take on, and frankly, there are times when I question absolutely everything . . . except for why I'm here.  I can honestly say, I never question that.  I question my abilities, my effectiveness as a teacher, how I'm viewed by others, some of my decisions in the past.  But in spite of everything, I still know I'm supposed to be here.

I had a conversation several days ago with two friends whom I regularly help with their English.  One of them asked me about my decision to come to China.  Well, I call it "my" decision, but in all frankness, it was not.  It was His decision, and I accepted it and I have never regretted accepting it.  My friend asked me how I knew it was the right choice, and I struggled for a moment as to how to explain the inexplicable certainty that I felt and still feel.  I have never in my life, other than when I accepted Christ, felt so certain.  Finally, I found the right words for it.  I answered her with another question, "How do you know that the sky is blue?"  That, I think, is the best explanation I shall ever have for how I know.

Obviously, I can't go into too many details of some of the struggles of the past four months.  Some things would be distasteful to air in as public a forum as a blog, others unprofessional, and other details would merely serve no constructive purpose.  Suffice to say, there are a lot of struggles that I battle through emotionally; sometimes I almost feel inclined to succumb to temptation and blame Satan by labeling it all a 'spiritual attack'.  Some mornings, when I've felt so overburdened that I've wanted to hide away from life, from people, from everything one can hide away from, I've had that very thought.  And, because I know better, I eventually slap on some common sense and pull myself together.

The truth is that every trial I face boils down to being a flawed human working with other flawed humans in a world riddled with further flaws.  Satan doesn't have to lift a finger — he can merely recline in his lair and watch bemusedly as we all do his work for him, many of us claiming all the while to be doing the Lord's work.  In fact, I sometimes speculate that we Christians do an awful lot of Satan's work for him — all with the best of intentions, of course.  We shut people out and call it 'community'.  We work ourselves to exhaustion and call it 'service' without actually serving anyone.  We pat ourselves on the back and feel holy because we did one simple task that's expected of us; all the while, the truly important tasks are left for someone 'more qualified'.  I believe that nothing demonstrates the unfathomable scope of God's love so much as the fact that He deliberately chose the most inefficient, whiny, insufferably arrogant creatures and called them His children.

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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"