"Tough we come from different tribes, speak different languages, and journey different paths, we look and walk towards the same hope in our Lord Jesus Christ and the day we meet Him face to face because heaven is our home."
I used to think I was clever, but now I'm starting to reevaluate. God keeps giving me lessons to learn, but they take just about forever to get through my thick skull. Maybe I'm not listening carefully enough, or maybe I'm just that far off. These days I almost feel stupid. But I also feel comforted- comforted at the fact that God still gives me chance after chance despite my stubbornness and still chooses to amaze me even when I fall apathetic to the graces He gives day after day.
This trip to Kunming was typical of the Jonah heart I have and my tendency to get bitter even when God is alive and apparent in my life. From the start I knew God had ordained this trip: I had been blessed with a 6 month break in school, blessed with a part-time job with flexible hours during my visit to Hong Kong, and signed onto the MMM team days before the deadline after my sister brought home a brochure from the local Christian bookstore. God is marvelous, and what He intended to teach me spanned beyond the cleft of psychology and tiling to change my heart to love the world less and love God more. In God's strange way, it would also be on this trip that I would discover that my roots run much deeper than I had imagined.
For the last few months in Hong Kong, my heart has been at war. I left my home in Vancouver to travel and serve overseas, but my heart has never quite been at peace since I've left. On one hand, I've wanted to take a break after graduation to really contemplate what God has in store for my life and whether He is leading me to serve in missions overseas, but on the other I struggle with the fact that I am away from my friends, church, and a comfortable life in Canada. I keep asking God where my "home" is in hopes He would just show me, and I bargain that if He did I would be able to better prepare and make better plans to serve Him. Even at the airport as we were leaving to go to Kunming, I was still struggling with where I fit- both in this world and on the team. I was in-between: not really Chinese and not really Western. I had no trades-skill to offer and no expertise to share. All I had was a packed bag, and all that my bag showed was that I was a transient.
By the time the second week in Kunming rolled around, I think I was too tired to care or think about my personal struggles. Our work was coming along well, I was learning lots of new skills (and some mandarin!), and our team was gelling nicely. When the weekly Friday communion service with the local Lisu people took place I found myself thinking about tiling and not God. But God would get my attention. When Steve (our host) gave his testimony of how God called him to leave home in Singapore to come to China to serve, my months of frustration and resentment resurfaced and dissolved. Here was a man of God without a ¡§home¡¨ who was honest enough to struggle in faith, but still found the courage to joyfully live out the mission God called Him to.
At that moment, all I could realize was the high price this man had paid to serve Christ, and my own hesitation to do the same. This man lived out the very thing I admired and yet feared: he walked on the edge of faith and had nothing in this world to show for it. But God showed me more. With the high cost of faith comes the truth that God promises to give me more than just an earthly home, He's already given me Himself, and that's all I'll need in this life. More than that, He's reserved a home for me in heaven where my joy with Him will be everlasting. The pains on this earth are sure to fade in the shadow of that joy. It's guaranteed (John 14:1-7) and written in blood at Calvary. My duty here on earth is not to find a home, but to faithfully serve wherever God places me whether that is in Canada, Hong Kong, or China.
With that insight comes the liberating truth that we're not citizens here but really sojourners. Like our father Abraham, we follow a call into the wilderness towards a promised land we've never seen taken on the basis of a promise. After all, what is a journey of faith if God tells you the itinerary in advance? We trek onwards towards heaven in this lifetime with Christ's assurance that He is enough to bring us through this world and that He alone will be the one to bring us into eternity with Him. When we realize this, we are free to not agonize over our futures because we know our final destination, and the journey we don't know and cannot plan for we have a God to lead us through. So we continue to labour in this life because it makes redemption and the joy of home all the sweeter on the great day we see our Savior face to face.
"Haste thee on from grace to glory,
Armed by faith, and winged by prayer.
Heaven's eternal days before thee,
God's own hand shall guide us there.
Soon shall close thy earthly mission,
Soon shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition,
Faith to sight, and prayer to praise."