Ever been away from home for so long you forgot how home felt? What does the entry way smell like again? Which part of the steps on your way upstairs creek? Everything in your fridge has either been eaten, thrown away, or by now replaced! The sense of what it feels like to be standing in the middle of your den or laying in your own bed has escaped you. Well if I have even been there, I am there now. Seven thousand miles away from home and every step feels like I am getting farther instead of closer. Every day that goes by, even though a day closer till I return, feels like another year since I was last home.
My nights are days at home. While I am dreaming, my kids are outside playing. The dinners are different, streets are busier, cars smaller (and drive crazier) , bathrooms older (this is me being nice), beds are firmer, hotel rooms tighter, people everywhere invading your space, down is up and up seems down. It is crazy. I am so far from home that it took seven days to get my body back to normal patterns. Yet, you know the one thing that is the same? People. Sure the culture is different. The language is challenging. But the people here are still people. They laugh. They cry. They hurt. They love. They share. They are just like you and me.
So as I struggle with the distance from my family, my home, my office, my church, my life, my heart (which is where home is if you didn't know) I can smile. As I long to hug my children and stare into my wife's eyes, I can find comfort. In what, you are probably asking? It is in the people. They are a reminder of our Creator. It is in the powerful truth of the Gospel. Yes, I am going here. This is what blogs are for and it is impossible to be this in love with someone, so humbled by someone, so dependent on something (which happens to be someone), to not speak about it. Who is this someone? He is Jesus Christ.
Everywhere I turn I see my Creator. The hills. The countryside. The view from 34,000 feet on one of my sump-teen flights between China and Vietnam. Ha-Long bay is a work of my Lord and Savior. His common grace is amazing. So, what does this have to do with people? Hang tight... I am getting there. Everywhere I turn I also see people. People who as I stated are just like me. Mostly here they are friendly, thoughtful, organized, and accepting. However they are also hopeless. Just like I was prior to Christ saving me. Their hope is built on what this world has to offer, what they can accomplish and the things they can avoid from happening. My heart breaks again... Like it breaks to be home but worse.
There are so many here without Christ. Many of our conversation are leading to the Gospel (in case you aren't aware: The Gospel says all men are sinners and fall short of the glory of God, therefore eternally separated from Him. Yet, God in His infinite and gracious love sent His son to be born and take on flesh as man. His son, Jesus Christ, lived the life we cant live (perfect, never sinning), died the death we should die (punishment for our sins) on a cross, raised from the dead three days later, and now sits on the right hand of His Father (God). Christ now intercedes for me on my behalf so when the Lord looks down on me he only views the righteousness of His son Jesus Christ (not my wickedness), therefore I am reconciled to Him. Wow that is fun to type. Makes me want to scream Hallelujah! o.k. I will stay on task...)
The people are the same. They are in desperate need of a savior. They are hopeless without Him and the saving truth of the Gospel without even knowing it... So simple questions like “what do you do for a living?” turns into a Gospel conversation. “Hey, how did you meet your wife?” turns into a cross centered story about my need for Christ. Mostly they smile. Sometimes they will laugh because they feel awkward. Every once in a while they will ask a question. Most have never heard this truth before. Most just want the conversation to change. So the people here are just like at home (minus the people at home have heard of Jesus Christ, maybe not the true Gospel but definitely heard of Christ ). This makes me sad for the lost yet it makes me feel at home and comforted. How?
As sad as this is to type it is true, I depend on Him more here (in China). I am praying for Him to get me through a day. I am leaning on Him when I cant sleep. I am reciting His attributes so I can recall how sufficient He is when I am worrying. But I also know I need Him to bridge the language gap. I need Him to make me transparent. I need Him to bring clarity to my confusing attempt to explain His greatness. I need Him to soften, illuminate, break, and regenerate a heart. Here, I am well aware I cant do any of these things on my own. What is painfully obvious is I don't feel this way at home. I rely on my vocabulary, my theology, my whit, my ability to influence. Sure I pray before or after the gospel is shared but there is a stark difference between praying and pleading! There is a monumental feeling that overwhelms while you are here in China with the same type of people at home. Here I know I cant do this on my own. Here I am a bruised kneed, splinter handed, broken man over my self and my blindness to so much in this world and what is to come in the next that I am weeping and pleading for everyone here to know what I know about Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Here I am more comfortable that I don't have a thing to do with the message or the message being accepted. Here I feel so inefficient.
However, what I now know to be true, is the Lord and His gospel message has never been seen so bright, because the people here aren't seeing much of me. They are seeing more of Him, which is exactly what they should see. I know this, because this is what I am seeing... Oh how I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So I am homesick but comforted because I know my Lord is in control. Here I am helpless to the hopeless but my Savior isn't. Here I am out of my element but God created all the elements. Do you see what I am comforted during such an uncomfortable time?
Cant wait to get home and start sharing what I have learned while I was away...