She’s a beauty.
Metallic green, her exterior sparkles in the bright sun. Her neat and bright personality radiates brilliantly. Her former owner spared no expenses, paying for all the extras – a classy spoiler, a CD player, a tidy little tow bar and sophisticated tinted windows.
With a bank balance which, while black, is sitting perilously close to zero, and having left behind simply a trusty but rusty red bike, this should not be. Yet again, my Lord has chosen to drench me with blessings. And yet again, I’m surprised.
“I eat dirt, and I’m grateful for that dirt!”
Some think that any full time Christian worker, and especially cross-cultural ones, should be a consumer of dirt. Red, black, or even yellow soil should surely form the basis of the diet of anybody who gives their all for Christ, right?
A worker in northern China, I was also a gourmet diner of succulent Beijing duck, long ‘silk’ (toffee) threads with apple, crisp celery and cashews, soft hand-pulled noodles, soothing millet porridge, all washed down with fragrant tea. Although I enjoyed so many new sensations in the area of gastronomy, I did expect to give up coffee when I moved to the Orient. Yet in the decade I lived there, I never actually ran out of my drug of choice. Surprising.
“I’ll do anything. I’ll deliver pamphlets on the steepest part of the mountains. I’ll clean hospitals or factories. I just need to earn a few dollars.”
This was during a period of ‘extended leave’ back in my home country. A contact of a contact asked, “Would you really do anything? Even menial and poorly-paid work?”
Thus it was that I found myself in my ‘dream job’ – an assistant in a library catering for girls. I was even paid to go and ‘have fun’ each day!
The bubbles pummel my back. The fragrance tickles my olfactory nerves. Muscles relax and tension dissipates as I lie there with my eyes closed.
It has been an ongoing joke that I’ve always dreamt of a spa-bath. Now, thanks to the kindness of friends, I find myself the proud owner of a ‘spa-mat’, which lies in the bath.
Decadent? You bet. I can easily spend an hour or more in the bath, basking in the position of chosen, loved and totally blessed daughter.
An intelligent and competent adult, I willingly became more ignorant than a child and certainly less clearly understood. I didn’t even know how to appropriately use a toilet when I first arrived.
Yet twelve years later, I find myself able to marry my love for writing and for the complex and rich language of northern China.
Clever, capable, I’m carving out a new career. Crazy but it’s true!
In view of what Christ has given up to bring us into relationship with His Father, surely we can do nothing but give up anything for Him. A stable income? Have it, Lord. A reliable, comfortable and good-looking vehicle? Have it, Lord. Tasty and nutritious meals? Have them, Lord. The ability to remain clean and well-dressed? Have it, Lord.
And yet what does He do with my sacrifice?
“… In view of God’s mercy … offer your bodies as living sacrifices…. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1,2 NIV)
Why are we surprised at the directions His good, pleasing and perfect will takes us? Our lot in life isn’t usually to eat dirt. Unless it is wet dirt … otherwise known as mud … chocolate mud cake, to be exact. That’s more His style.
I take the keys to my new car and slip behind the steering wheel, pushing a favourite CD into the player. Driving out onto the open road, I wind down the window and let the clean air whip my hair into a lovely mess. It’s a long way from my trusty rusty bike back in the land of gourmet cuisine where the air has real body.
In the decade I’ve more formally ‘given up all for Christ’, I’ve never yet ceased to be surprised at His goodness to me. As I return to my homeland, I continue to be surprised.
As for His ‘good, perfect and pleasing will’ for those who give ourselves for Him, well, I must say that I continue to ‘test’ it. Not surprisingly, I continue to ‘approve’.
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