Based on the lunar calendar, the Chinese new year is yet a month away, and that is the time that 1.3 billion people will, en masse, migrate to their hometowns and haunts. Never before have I seen a peaceful country look more like it's at civil war than when China's billion gets hold of cheap fireworks and lights them off in one moment--that stretches on for weeks! The view from a 757 in February 2010 was unbelievable; my parents and my sister and I were traveling to Beijing and as we readied for landing, the birds-eye view was reminiscent of Mogadishu in Blackhawk Down!
I have a few plans on my plate for the new year and soon thereafter will be traveling southward by plane, train and automobile, connecting with friends from the year I spent teaching English in 2009/'10. That year was one that marked my path in preparing to move to China with no certain plans of returning. I can clearly remember that night of Dec. 31 when I made homemade vanilla ice cream and brownies for friends and we attended a nursing school campus ceremony to ring in the new year. Back then, the thought of moving to China indefinitely was in my mind. That year was one catalyst, but this year—2013—will live on in my mind as one that has the potential to shape the rest of my life.
In 2012 and earlier this year when I told friends, strangers and family that I was planning to move to China, a common response was the following:
“That’s great to do that kind of thing while you’re young…”
Young children have an exuberance and an excitability about their dreams that many an adult has experienced at one point, but tempered with age. And yet, there is one Father who looks at his kids and says to those of age, "Unless you become as a child, you will not see the Kingdom..." Thus, my heart desires to follow Him who said "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." There was no pretense or qualifiers in this statement, nor were any guarantees made that such a decision would only be for a certain time span or season of one's life. For there will always be things that tempt us to walk the way of our desires and interests, but those who walk in step with the Spirit will also be those who know the joy, peace and comfort of having a loving Father look after them and lead them beside still waters.
Now there's certainly rough waters aplenty in each of our lives, some more than others. After watching 45 minutes of the life story of Marshall Bruce Mathers III--better known as Eminem--I can say that that man has had his share of ups and downs. He grew up in St. Joseph, MO of all places, just a quaint town one hour north of KCMO. Though he may claim Detroit as his home, it's clear that he has coped with the stresses and trials of life by rhyming words and being very good at what he does. But, for all his talent and lyrical genius, relationships in his life have struggled the most. In this season that just passed of Christmas, it is fitting that Elizabeth gave birth to "he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." It is this being reconciled that is at the center of Christ's incarnation, and now His people going out into the world. For wherever your feet tread, there are likely fathers who aren't reconciled to their children and all categories of people not reconciled to their Father above.
Our going is His coming, as God told Moses in effect. Let us not go without Him, but let us go at all costs. For he has turned our disobedience into righteousness at a great price if we are of those who take up our cross to follow Him, not counting our possessions nor treasures in this life of any worth. Like Paul, may we run this race of faith well, not training unto a crown that perishes, but unto a crown that is awarded to all who enter in and receive the great "Well done, my good and faithful servant!"
In review, 2013 is a year of great change and one where I'm certain that this decision to uproot and enter a world mostly foreign to me is a good one in the Genesis 1 sense of good! If you're reading this, you're more than likely one who has walked alongside me for some number of years or all 29 of them. Next year 30 commences on the 18th April. I'll have kept my waist size the same as my age and plan to run more miles in one day than years I am old (as I signed up for a 50km race on March 15 in Hong Kong), but those things are not what's truly important. I'll have gained one more year of wisdom and favor with men and God, I pray, and had the blessing of having loving family and friends alongside me as I ventured some 9000 miles across the globe to put down new roots. Tender as they are, they are growing and show signs of life. I need only to abide in the vine to bear fruit, and your role from afar, if that is you, is one that is irreplaceable and much appreciated. The email or FB note, the Skype chat, the reunion in some other far-flung city in China, or the package or letter that is sent across those same 9000 miles--these are expressions of the love that bonds us.
I look forward to what this new year will bring! And, my hope and plans at th to be see many of you at some point this year, both in Asia and in America, so I look forward to that. Because this blog post was written in 3 sittings, it's not quite so cohesive as I'd like, but I'm going to leave it at this and say, "Happy new year's!"