Three months ago, I returned to China expectantly. Surely God would use me powerfully. He would quickly grant me fluency in the language. He would make my home a place of blessing, a central spring of living water for this community and beyond. My classes would be inspiring, effective, reinforcing gently but clearly the reality of a Creator.
Although my language ability has not gone backwards, the move forwards progresses almost as fast as a snail meandering around a racecourse. Although my home is used occasionally, by and large it simply collects dust. My classes are all but non-existent, with the bulk cancelled just hours before starting due to bureaucracy and distrust.
What do you want of me, God?
I turn to Psalm 27 … below is my paraphrase. Much of it is spoken ‘in faith’ … speaking words that perhaps I don’t completely feel, but in the process of praying, hope that God will truly make my own.
You are my light. You are my salvation. Who or what shall I fear? You are the One who holds me strong, who keeps me firm. Of whom or what shall I be afraid?
When life doesn’t go the way I expect, I will not be dismayed. When classes are cancelled, when I can’t properly express what I want to say in this language, when I feel as if the whole system is out ‘to get me’, even then I will be confident.
When the power fails, when the water cuts out, when the dust settles faster than I can wipe it off, when my cupboards are missing the key ingredients for the occasional culinary adventure, I will not groan in frustration.
There is only one thing I ask of you, my God. There is one thing for which the deepest part of me truly yearns. I want to walk close to you every day of my life. I want to see you, to gaze in wonder and awe at your beauty, to be blown away by your power, your majesty, your incredible light and energy. I want to seek you. I want to be diligent in prayer, Bible study, fellowship and sharing with others of our journey in you. I want to be filled with your Spirit. I want to know the Almighty Creator.
In the day of trouble, you will keep me safe in your presence. You will hide me in your embrace – in the embrace of God Almighty! You will set me firmly on an immovable rock, a rock that can’t be budged one iota, even by the greatest combined efforts of people and spiritual powers.
During times of trouble and uncertainty, from that high, firm, immovable position, I will look down on the circumstances, authorities and people that try to sway me, and I will laugh. I will laugh with joy because of my firm position. I am a daughter of the Almighty Creator. I will turn to you, most high God, in the midst of frustrations, uncertainty and difficulty. I will forget the presence of those who attempt to dislodge me, instead offering to you the sacrifices of praise, submission and thanksgiving. At that time, I will sing with my mouth. I will play the keyboard with my hands. From my heart, I will make music not for the benefit of those around me, but for you, the very origin of music itself.
When I turn to you, my God, please hear me. Show me mercy and answer my prayers. My heart and my mind urgently tell me to turn to you, and so I do and will continue to do so. Yet sometimes you seem so far away. Sometimes my mind races in fifty different directions, and I feel exhausted attempting to rein it back and to focus on you. Don’t hide yourself from me, my God. Don’t turn away from me in anger. Yet again, forgive me because of your Son. Yet again, accept me. You have been my helper, guide and life director. Show me your face once more.
Indeed, the LORD will not reject me. That my mother and father might reject me is unfathomable. How infinitesimally more will my heavenly Father remain loving toward me and continually welcome me as I turn to Him.
Teach me your ways, my God. Lead me in straight paths, especially in light of the fact that there are powers around which would delight in seeing me fall. Show me what YOU would have me do in this place. May those that would obstruct, distract and confuse me be held at bay, rendered ineffective. Continue to direct me, LORD.
Of this I am confident – I will see the goodness of the LORD - soon. Indeed, Father, you are the one who keeps me focused on you. You will be good to me. You will grant me clear direction. You will even use me to produce good fruit in this place.
But when? I’m impatient. Yet confident.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” (Ps. 27:14 NIV)
Wait, eh? I’m ready for action. Yet your direction is to wait, confident, focused, firmly grounded on that solid rock, knowing that you are with me and will guide me in your time. Help me, Holy Father, to be strong, to take heart, and to wait for you.
Such a beautiful flow of words and heart. May we embrace them for our own. Just lovely.
22 Dec 2005
Thanks for that little peep into your heart.I too pray that those who would obstruct, distract and confuse Suzanne, be held at bay and rendered ineffective. May you have peace and joy this Chistmas (even if you can't have Judy and Joy!)
Wow, Suz. What a wondeful Midrash (nothing to do with itchy skin) it's way the Jews look at the scripture and expand it. Thank you for sharing where your heart is at the moment and where you want your heart to be in the future. Considering my present situation reading this has been a real blessing to me and a great way to start the day. Thank you. Yeggy