God: “I’m here”

The other day, I met with a prof to talk about life and my future. Later in the day, I headed over to the hospital to see my friends Matt and Sara, and their brand new baby boy, Jackson. In the evening, I attended a Maundy Thursday service at Ecclesia. And then after the service, I went and celebrated another friend’s birthday.

In all of it: as I was challenged to be patient and yet probing in looking to my future and God’s leading; as I was holding seventeen-hour old Jackson and being astounded into speechlessness at the miracle of life; as I was partaking of the Lord’s Supper and meditating on his crucifixion and sacrifice; as I was laughing and celebrating with friends; in all of it, God was whispering his presence into my ear. I’m here. It wasn’t much. But it was enough.

It’s a far cry from my years in London, when it was ‘normal’ to be speaking and singing in tongues, getting words of knowledge, listening expectantly for God’s voice and often hearing, and being ‘led by the Spirit’.

And sometimes, I do wish I could just hear an audible voice. That God would just tell me to do and how to make my decisions. But I’m learning to grow up, to be responsible for my own life and my own decisions. And I’m learning to see God’s presence in new ways; I’m learning to sense him in places I wouldn’t have thought to know him; I’m learning to trust that he’ll bring things about somehow. He’s still there. And that’s no bad thing.

I can’t see how you’re leading me unless you’ve led me here, where I’m lost enough to let myself be led. – Rich Mullins, ‘Hard to Get’

Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age. – Matt. 28:20

Life now

For those of you with whom I haven’t been good at being in contact (or being informative), here’s the latest. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, here’s the précis: life is exciting for me right now.

At this precise moment, having finished my final paper, I’m one Hebrew final away from being halfway through my time at Fuller. By noon tomorrow, I’ll have reached the aforementioned midpoint, which is both surprising (how time flies!), sad (how time flies!), and exciting (after the happenings of the last 18 months, what more awaits?). It’s also exciting because it means I’ll have almost two weeks off from school stuff—I’ll still be working, but I’ll have more time to hang out with God and with friends, to recharge and to, as one friend put it, “do things that make you whole.”

Directionally-speaking, about six weeks ago, I switched out of the MDiv program and am now enrolled in the dual MA in Theology and MA in Cross-Cultural Studies. The reason for this was a further crystallizing of my understanding of God’s calling. God has tended to lead me incrementally (probably coz he knows I’d freak out if I saw the rest of my life), and this was just that next step—an understanding that my calling is to be engaged in fixing of a broken system, whether that leads me through social justice avenues of combating human trafficking or working in the inner city (which I mention as two currently possible options) or through the workings of the political system. Or perhaps the next increment will focus my path yet again.

Either way, it’s exciting to be where I am, figuring out who I am and where God is calling me. An experience in the last two weeks made me realize that I had been more complacent than I realized, less ready than I would’ve liked to be, and that there was much still to deal with that I had let fall to the side—one of the pitfalls of being a laidback person is that it can slide into laziness. So I’m pushing myself and exhilarated to face the challenges ahead.

The plan for the next year or so? Probably in the summer, I’ll wind down my time in the Admissions Office, a place I have been honored and privileged to work, a place of pastoral support and friendships. This will free up my schedule to engage in an immersion of sorts—I’ll be looking to get involved in various aspects of social justice, integrating the learning in the classroom (that I have become so comfortable with) with the learning on the ground. So whether it’s volunteering with the poor, interning with an advocacy group, offering time to a non-profit, I’ll be doing something that will not only satisfy my desire to be active but, more importantly, help me figure out better how God is leading, which will in turn set me up as I look to graduate from Fuller in the summer of 2009—and that’s all exciting, too.

I’m also excited because next month, I’ll be heading to Alabama to visit my erstwhile neighbors and surrogate-California family—the Holdens—and to see my mentor and his family, who were my surrogate-London family—the Lotzes. On the way back, I’ll be stopping through Chicago to see Laura (who, if you’ve read my blog for awhile, you’ll know had an unwitting but pivotal part to play in my deciding to come to Fuller) and other Wheaton friends, and my high school buddy Dawen, who I haven’t seen since … who knows when!

And I’m excited because I’ve accrued enough miles to fly back to London for free. Now I just need to find the right time! But I promise I’ll see you soon.

And it’s Palm Sunday, the day of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem; the beginning of Holy Week. I’m coming off of two straight nights of being with friends and laughing so hard I was tired. God’s been good. Sometimes things come together. And, at least in the immediate aftermath of a hard decision, such things can serve as a confirmation of sorts that God is in it all with me. And that, above all, is the most exciting.

***

The Right Measure

In being afraid to commit … or being too ready to commit?

In being afraid to be vulnerable … or being too vulnerable too quickly?

In being challenging to the point of discomfort … or being affirming to the point of self-satisfaction?

In changing to be someone you’re not … or refusing to become more who you were meant to be?

In being so busy that you lose sight of peace and rest … or being so free that you lose sight of the importance of activity?

In being an introvert who is drained by large groups … or being an extrovert who can’t handle being alone?

In being all … or nothing?

Extremes are easy. I’ve been all of these. It’s the middle ground that requires grace—that’s the tightrope walk. But it’s the right road.

Goodnight, Stan

I found out today that my ex’s grandfather passed away last summer. In the three years that Ally and I were together, I got to know him a little. He was a POW in Hong Kong during the Second World War, and had many stories to tell. We watched cricket together (on occasion), talked about Hong Kong, and he used to speak whatever Mandarin he could remember to me. In the last few years, his memory and his health had been deteriorating, and so it was as expected as a death can be, I suppose.

RIP Stanley. You’re missed already.

Saying Goodbye

“Goodbye”, the latest song, recorded at the request of Danie, is now up on my Myspace. The audio’s a little interesting, but enjoy nonetheless. Let me know what you think.

Of course, I can’t claim full ownership to the writing of this song. Due credit has to be given to the wonderful writer of the “Paper Chain” song, who inspired me to crank out my first song in six months. You know who you are … thanks.

God spoke in the ellipses

Yesterday, I had a conversation with God. He didn’t say much at all; there was, audibly, no still-small voice, nor a thundering from out of a tempest. Most of the time, he spoke in ellipses. But somehow, he managed to get me from talking about what I wanted to talk about to what he wanted to talk about. It began with speaking; it ended with tears. I began on my feet; I ended on my face.

And somehow … it was good. Somehow, it was exactly what I needed.

Encouragement

Every now and then, you meet a kindred spirit; someone who’s walking the same journey you are, someone who’s trying to figure out the same things you are, someone who’s wrestling with the same kinds of questions you are, someone who’s seeking to see the same kind of change you are. And when you do, you encourage one another in whatever God’s doing right now, in whatever you’re doing right now, in however confident or uncertain you are in the path that you believe God has called you to.

I’m not the only one trying to figure out how God’s going to bring together the distinct pieces of me into a whole, dedicated to and focused on the task ahead, whatever it may be. And sometimes, knowing this is the encouragement we need for the next little while.

I thank God for conversations like the one I had last night. They have a way of coming at the right time.