The Beginning and the end, O Lord, are thine;
The span between, life, was mine.
I wandered in the darkness and did not discover myself;
With thee, O Lord, is clarity, and light is thy house.
A short time only, and all is done;
Then the whole struggle dies away to nothing.
Then I will refresh myself by the waters of life,
And will talk with Jesus ever and ever.
First post of 2017, I’m giddy as a child in a candy store. Simply for the reason that I’m excited for this year. A year ended. It was a fantastic year, but time and life doesn’t pause for us. We are in a continue movement toward death and the end. I mean Revelations speaks of some crazyyy s**t and at the same time it’s fantastic!! Why? Because as Dietrich Bonhoeffer so eloquently states above in the opening poem, as children of God the grace He bestows to us and illuminates our identity, oneness, and purpose will culminate at the climatic moment of death when we finally ‘talk with Jesus ever and ever’. Hell Yeah Freaking Amen!!
This post is not about death, we had enough about death last year. Let’s flip the script, DISCOVERING JOY!! Those are my words the Lord blessed to reveal to me that will be my overarching theme for 2017. Go figure, 17, in the Bible symbolizes “overcoming the enemy” and “complete victory”, so this year people is a good year!! To show some “coincidence” which I don’t believe in that since I know the Creator orchestrates all, so it’s just me being aware of His path, but that’s a topic for another time. I ended 2016 my reading with Bonhoeffer’s biography and started on C.S. Lewis’s biography. Yes, that means get ready for future blog post littered with quotes of C.S. Lewis. I’m in the first page of the preface and I read: “my goal is to focus closely on the story of Lewis’s spiritual journey and his search for the object of the mysterious longing he called Joy (always capitalized), a quest which he claimed was the central story of his life.” I wish I was smart and creative enough to make up stories like this, but seriously, why even make it up when God grants me a life that already has WTF moments!! Clearly, Lewis’s life and works will provide essential resources among my quest for discovering Joy this year.
It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. — Psalms 119:17
People I leave soon to return to the East. Oh what Joy that brings!! How only six days of being back in the States I was ready to hop back on the plane and return to continue working. He successfully placed me in America to perform ministry rather then China’s Fall semester of 2015. How it took me quite a while those beginning weeks back stateside to grasp this mere fact: Ministry is not dependent on geographical location. Ministry is your life. He calls us to live out our/His ministry, so that logically means that support raising is my ministry here in America. Boy ole boy, as I write this I can say, support brings me Joy.
I would argue that sometimes in America I felt ‘I was afflicted’. Yes, I would love to explain. Family. Many workers spread out over the world can contest deep down it’s hard living the life we have been called. Whether it’s for a summer trip, a year, or a good chunk of your life, we all deal with those relatives that just don’t understand: “‘You can do ministry here. Have you seen the homeless downtown?’ ‘When will you get a real job?’ ‘Don’t you care about your mother/father?’ ‘Why you even go to college?'” Listen, deep down I love my family. They are blood and let’s face it at the end of the day no family is perfect. I share this snippet of my frustration for those scared to take off because of family.
“And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” — Matthew 10:36-39
“And he said, ‘Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.'” — Luke 4:24
You got to love when Lord Jesus drops truth like that. How can you argue with it? I feel standing in front of God one day you, me personally, don’t want to sound foolish and say, “God, you called me to labor and spread the Gospel to SAID country or people, but you see I couldn’t have gone because: my sibling is graduating or my mom needs help with her move or holidays are important I mean it could’ve been my grandparents last one.” Whatever you want to tell yourself it’s on you. Affliction comes here in America and definitely over yonder in Asia. Beautifully, God takes any afflicted times to bring about a deeper revelation on His statutes if you looking for them.
A beautiful promise Jesus gives: losing your life following after Him, ironically, means you will find yours. Jesus is beyond religion. Your story is still being written. There’s a joy that He can only bring.
“Last year when…we came to the end of the year, we probably all thought that this year we would be decisively further along and would see more clearly. Now it is questionable at the very least whether this hope has come true…It almost seems to me as if we must come to terms with it over the long haul, to live more deeply out of the past and the present–and that means out of gratitude–than from any vision of the future.”