Meeting

lifeIsMeeting

Who reads the book of Numbers anyway? Lists of names… information about sacrifices and people constantly making foolish decisions and the discipline that comes with those choices. Who spends several months swimming through a book like this? I didn’t intend to. But I’m raising my hand on this side of the screen.I planned to spend this year focusing on the New Testament. I wanted to understand more of the depths of my savior. So, how I ended up in Numbers was quite unplanned by yours truly. But, now I must say– this book has rocked my perspective so much. What happened then in history was pointing to my sweet Savior. This book pointed me to finding my everything in Him. In Jesus.

I had a commentary on my Kindle for this book, I suppose that’s why I dove into the book in the first place. But as dry as Numbers seemed at times, the way the author connected the events with the coming Messiah– was like a child discovering that the dying iPod only needed to be connected to electricity for it to be revived. Don’t ask me where that analogy came from. However, the point of this isn’t to give a book review– it’s to talk about the end of the matter.

Life is meeting.

Life is meeting new circumstances, many of which we don’t expect and can’t control. Life is meeting new people and developing new relationships; it’s meeting new ideas, some of which may upset us. As much as we try to avoid it, life is meeting ourselves and not always liking what we see. But most of all, life is meeting God, for He’s always there, protecting us, wanting to teach, and always seeking to mature us.” Warren Wiersby

My heart was gripped by this. I can’t explain why I was so moved by this — but I was. Maybe, it’s because this is so much of what I’ve been learning lately. My circumstances are constantly changing in this land over here and I can’t.. CAN’T control things here. I want to, I try, I think I have— but reality hits and at the end of the day I have no control.

People… oh how I could spend days talking about the hundreds of people I am connected with over here. Relationships are part of my purpose in this life. Building them, deepening them, nurturing them– yes as messy as relationships get, I want to continue diving into them.

But then comes that word: me. Meeting myself and discovering who I am is a huge part of this journey. I think I know myself, but I have no idea about the depths of my depravity. I also fail to grasp the boundless oceans of mercy that have been gifted to me. I think I know I can keep my life under control, then some situation happens where I am confronted with my fears and my failure to trust God. Learning who I am and who Jesus is is a life-long process. Throughout all of this meeting I want to be awake to what God is trying to teach me. I don’t want to be like the Israelites who feared the unknown and disobeyed because they focused on their weakness and insignificance. Life needs to be lived by faith. It’s easy to say that– but it’s when the refining tests and trials come that show if I’m living by faith.

As I walked down the sidewalk this afternoon I realized just how much of life is meeting. I ran into a lady who worked in my apartment building since I moved in, several years back. This week she suddenly disappeared. My heart ached when I learned that she was relocated to a different part of campus. We hugged each other as tears welled up in our eyes. I have no idea why she has been in my life for these years. We couldn’t even communicate for most of my time here. But this I know. It wasn’t by accident that I saw her today, and it wasn’t by accident that she’s been watching me live my life for the past few years here. If God is the one going before me, He’s the one placing people in my life. After saying goodbye, I continued walking down the sidewalk only to be greeted by two of my former students. They yelled my name and were just so full of joy. We spoke and caught up a bit. Father knew I needed that burst of joy after the prior meeting.

All I can say is… Life is meeting, and I want to keep meeting.

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Stories

Aside

We all have stories. You have some, I have some. Our stories are part of the greater story of our life. Whether we realize it or not, there is a much grander story being woven together as I type. Yes! That excites me and scares me at the same time. Sometimes I think that I’ve got that moment under control. Truth is nothing is under my control. I read in a book yesterday that gravity is pushing me to earth at 9.81 meters per second squared. I don’t even know what that means, so thankfully the author explained that means I’m falling into the earth at 22 miles per hour. Okay does that mean anything to you? That is one way that God is showing me that I am not in control of this thing called my story.

So I thought I’d share a few stories from travels I’ve taken. I don’t really have extravagant amounts of time to go around this frozen city to take dreamy pictures to tell blog land how magical my life is. It kind of is just life. Just like you live your life, fulfilling your purpose– that’s what I’m doing. Just in a different part of the globe.

Okay so I traveled back here after just over a month traveling all over America. I was worn out. Seriously I was not ready to come back. I was fearful of it all. I was overly emotional and tired and just a mess. I think a HUGE reason was that for  three years I haven’t really made rest a priority. I lived a super busy life in college– and that rolled over into life abroad. Not to mention the energy life here consumes to teach and live in a cross-cultural environment. I took none of that into account and thought that I was young and could go at the speed of… well.. what ever I thought I could go at. That speed was sending me straight to burnout.

Before I had embarked on my America journey I had made plans to visit my student in her hometown while I had a week of downtime after getting back. I struggle with pleasing people and not knowing how to say no. Especially when the student already got my bus ticket to return from her city. Well, after several days of resting per my neighbors command I felt like I was ready to embark on a small adventure.

So there I was, in line at the bus station, when I noticed people had their ID cards and I remembered that I totally forgot my passport. Yo. Bad idea! Oh but when I bought my ticket it was no problem. Whew. Got on the bus (no passport needed). Listened to something and read a book and got a little nervous when the bus would kind of hit the rumble strips. Apparently that’s how they do on the highways here?

baishan_welcome

Arrived at my students town. There she was with her parents smiling as big as ever that her teacher would COME to her town. She’s such a blessing to me! We ate noodles– apparently that’s the traditional food people eat after a journey to show that the journey was successful. Her mom made the noodles by hand. She’s kind of a cooking pro and her kitchen was spotless (mine isn’t).

baishan_student

Then it started to snow, like a lot. These towns don’t have lots of snow removal equipment even though it is the frozen land of snow and ice. They made comments of concern that we wouldn’t get out of the town when planned (I had lesson planning and teaching to do! I needed to go home when we planned…). Sure enough, the next day it kept snowing and the buses weren’t going. We considered other options but held our breaths hoping that we could get out the following day when we planned to.

baishan_snow

When it snows, there isn’t a whole lot to do– except visit grandparents, eat food, and watch TV. I love meeting elderly people. I want to hear their stories. I want to understand them, but it’s a little difficult (or a lot). I loved her grandfather. He was precious, precious! His eyes smiled. He told me that they live a simple life but are happy. My heart ached as their house was covered with idolatry and fear, no true sense of lasting peace. Oh that God would Shine on this land and redeem those walking in darkness!

baishan_grandpa

Eating in one of these homes goes something like this… “come eat!” — go to the table that is overflowing with food that is way more than any of us can possibly consume. You eat until you cannot eat anymore– and the mother commands that you keep eating– it’s their happy-o-meter. If you eat more that means you like it and that makes them happy. Whew. I love eating Chinese food but sometimes I can’t.take.anymore.

Okay well fast forwarding to the following morning– the morning we had our bus tickets.  We could go! Per Chinese tradition you eat dumplings (or Jiaozi) when you depart on a journey, it’s their way of sending well wishes. So we ate dumplings for breakfast. As I said her mom is a pro. Then my student got notifications from others who had    left on earlier buses saying that they’re stopping by the police station to do ID checks. Oh remember who left their passport at home? This one. I sent an SOS to the parents and a close friend asking that they uphold this situation and that I could pass through the police check safely.

We drove across town and stopped. I held my breath. The policeman came on and walked past me and my student, he didn’t even collect her ID. He was looking for people who weren’t students. Oh how my heavenly Father was orchestrating this event that was entirely out of my control. I made it home without any problems.

baishan_snow

The trip was a graced trip. It was a short trip, but there were so many things that HE was teaching me. He was teaching me to trust Him and that sometimes I need to relax. I want to be the one serving. I want to be the one giving that cup of tea and that piece of cake to a guest. He was teaching me how to be a guest and accept their gift of hospitality, just as I wish people to accept when they’re in my home. He was also teaching me how He wants me to be receptive of what He’s doing around me. Slow down. Enjoy. Savor. BE.