We will pack a mental picnic
for years before we go.
Some will say the sky’s the limit,
but we will answer: No,
the mind was made to travel.
So, too, indentured hearts,
and knitted fears unravel
with adventure in the dark.
- “Come Picnic on Mars”
It begins with this question: How can love be my language?
Because these are the moments that will count when my eyelids are wrinkled and my arms are weak:
Prolonged conversations when hearts are thudding over bared feelings and dreams.
Bumpy bus rides to places dusty and unfamiliar.
Drinking the rain.
Breathing in the soft scent of children who’ve fallen asleep with their arms wrapped around my neck.
Those brief and precious frames of life when everything is simpler and somehow realer than most of the rest of my life.
When everything makes more sense. When honesty, purpose, and action align and, for a moment, my eyes lose their shadows and focus in on what truly matters.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the things I likely will not dwell on in the end: Money and my resume.
If I think about it now, I don’t want anything more than I want love. Nothing is more important. I just want love. (Is that too radical?) I want it in all of me, tracing itself in my footsteps, on the people, and in the places I come to know throughout the rest of my life.
No matter who you are, where you live, what you look like, what you believe—I want you to feel and believe that I truly love you. And through that unmistakable love, I want you to know that Jesus loves you with the most gorgeous, the most perfect love.
I’m not there yet. Not even close.
My harshness with those closest to me. My impatience with the faultless. My quickness to defend. The way I dwell so relentlessly on my insecurities. How quickly I allow emotions to make the big decisions for me. All of these make me cringe in retrospect.
Despite this, here is yet another thing that matters more—
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
I’ve done a number on myself with my short life already. Layers upon layers of brittle hurt and anger, He’s painstakingly rubbed out from inside my skin. It’s a long, painful, two-steps-forward-one-step-back process, but the change is visible.
Hallelujah, for He is faithful. And someday, hopefully soon, I’ll learn to speak with the language of love.
like, 93% humidity, sweaty armpit hot,
and yet i’m all wrapped up in a sheet, from neck to toe, and the mosquitos are still managing to find a way to snuggle up to me. in three hours, i’ve got a bite on my butt and a bite on my thigh and a bite on my left pinky toe and a bite on my right heel and a bite on my right big toe.
it’s been at least six new bites a day.
whatever. i’m past the point of excessive complaining. i just want to say, i hate you mosquito. you useless creature that i’m too helpless to do anything about except pathetically say i hate you. BLAH. seriously. i hate you.
(thanks leah for being the inspiration for this rant.)
It was early in the morning, but he knew exactly what was happening in his chest and woke my mother to ask her to call an ambulance. Our telephone was in the living room, but before she could leave their bedroom to use it, he asked for something else. My father asked that the ambulance not use its siren.
Weeks later, when the fear of death had receded like some strange tide, my mother asked him about the siren. My father said simply that he worried it would have woken and frightened his three sleeping daughters. It is true that we were all light sleepers and that our farm was usually blanketed by the polite silence that comes from having no close neighbors, but what impossible kindness there was in my father’s request.
I have called it an act of kindness, which I think it was. It was considerate in a way I cannot begin to understand; generous in a way no one would expect, much less demand. Years later I still do not comprehend how in what very well might have been the final moments of his life, my father thought to ask for quiet so that his daughters might continue sleeping.
Kindness is like holding an ice cube in your hands. It stings, but then the cold dissolves; what at first you could barely hold becomes something you cannot let go. My father’s request for a quiet ambulance came from a man so familiar with kindness that the sting was completely gone: the ice was no longer cold, but one with the flesh.
Henry James, it turns out, was right.
Do your soul a favor and read Cep’s full essay.
hey andrew (andy? drew? a?). yep, still in laos. :) would you want to follow my other blog for pictures/updates, seeing as how i don’t have ig anymore? let me know, and i’ll give you the password.
i deactivated my fb a couple weeks ago and then made the decision to delete my pinterest/instagram/everything else this week. this devotion triggered the latter decision.
something that triggered all of this is that i’ve really been trying to fight pridefulness, and social media is definitely something that eggs pride/self on. i don’t want “self” in a form of something as trite as “like/follower/comment”-receiving to get in the way of what’s really important.
for example, i’m in southeast asia as a missionary with a million ways to serve God and the people here, yet sometimes i’d stay in my room for hours at a time, scrolling through facebook. the fact that social media is a huge time vacuum/ego booster is true anywhere in the world, but it just became more startling to me here. plus, people were really starting to get the wrong idea of the work i’m doing here, because my pictures were so smiley and seemed so vacation-y. i don’t want people to get the wrong idea of what mission work is—it’s hard and emotionally/spiritually/physically draining—and that wasn’t coming across on facebook.
so yeah, i guess i’m trying to hate social media too, haha. it’s a big part of my identity. it used to be a big part of my job description too. but even still, it’s never as necessary as you might think it is.
this is long. i’ll end it here. i hope you’re well! i enjoy your photos! i think you’re immensely talented! :)
bah! i didn’t mean to post it publicly, and i don’t think i can leave you a message this long on your “ask me anything” thingy. sorry! :(
In the West, many Christians have an abundance of material possessions, yet they live in a backslidden state. They have silver and gold, but they don’t rise up and walk in Jesus’ name. In China, we have no possessions to hold us down, so there’s nothing preventing us from moving out for the Lord.
It’s almost impossible for the church in China to go to sleep in its present situation. There’s always something to keep us on the run, and it’s very difficult to sleep while you’re running. If persecution stops, I fear we’ll become complacent and fall asleep.
Many pastors in Europe and America have told me they want to see great revival. I’m frequently asked why China is experiencing revival but most places in the West are not. THis is a big question to answer, but some reasons are very apparent to me.
When I’m in the West I see all the mighty church buildings and all the expensive equipment, plush carpets, and state-of-the-art sound systems. I can assure the Western church with absolute certainty that you don’t need any more church buildings. Church buildings will never bring the revival you seek. The pursuit of more possessions will never bring revival. Jesus truly stated, "A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15).
The first thing needed for revival to return to your churches is the Word of the Lord. God’s Word is missing. […] Not only is knowledge of God’s Word missing, but obedience to that word. There’s not much action taking place.
You can never really know the Scriptures until you’re willing to be changed by them.
All genuine revivals of the Lord result in believers responding with action and soul winning. When God truly moves in your heart you cannot remain silent. There will be a fire in your bones, like Jeremiah, who said, "His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot" (Jeremiah 20:9).
I’ve seen people in Western churches worshipping as if they’re already in heaven. Then someone invariably brings a comforting message like, “My children, I love you. Don’t be afraid. I’m with you.” I’m not opposed to such words, but why is it that nobody seems to hear a Word from the Lord like, “My child, I want to send you to the slums of Asia or the darkness of Africa to be my messenger to people dying in their sin”?
The Great Commission has not changed. There are many churches trying to create a heaven here on hearth, but until the Western church obeys the Great Commission and takes the gospel to the ends of the earth, people are just playing with God and are not really serious about the truth. Many churches look beautiful on the outside, but are dead where it counts, on the inside.
If you truly want to see God move, the two main things you must do is learn the Word of God and have the obedience to do what God tells you to do.
- The Heavenly Man, by Brother Yun
remember the quiet, when mornings were luxurious, sunlit, and smelled of sunshine and rain
remember the sparkle, of debris-free sidewalks, smooth skin, and thick, monogrammed shopping bags
remember time, and how slowly it moved, and yet how we were always in a hurry
remember searching for a meaning, a purpose, and now that it’s here, it’s bigger and more vivid and more frightening than anything i could have imagined in my prior ignorance
i feel like i should be more scared than i am.
but what i’m more afraid of is the thought of going back. where THE WORLD is felt more heavily, in all of its machine-like expectation and persistence. where success is earned first by college, and then by graduate school, and then career and marriage and family and the relative unchangingness of the rest of your life.
before i left, i wondered how this year might change me. i thought that perhaps i’d learn to be more compassionate. maybe i’d learn a new language, make exotic new friends, experience hunger and a pinched wallet for the first time in my life.
and then i’d probably come back home to america, ready to apply my “world experience” to a resume and some cover letters. and i’d likely be accepted by some kind of creative nonprofit work that preferably paid a comfortable salary and allowed me to do overseas work from time to time.
but then, this year actually happened, and life has never looked so different. i never expected it to look like this. i never planned to let my thoughts wander down this current path. i never did, i never did…
God gives us different gifts (romans 12:6-8; ephesians 4:11-13). we’re given different callings. but again, i never thought that this would be mine. please pray that i listen to God as He guides me to the next stage of my life. pray that i am willing (ephesians 4:1-6). and forgive me for my continuing ambiguity.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. - Romans 12:2
yet always renewed.