Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cycling Through The Seasons

Ever since moving to Hong Kong I have missed cycling to work, or taking some time during a late summer evening to grab my camera, and my bike to head out for some clicks and clicks. Cycling was always an enjoyable way for me to unwind. The cycling that I am doing now is not that kind. I’m not meaning that I am riding a bike here on Cheung Chau, which would be tantamount to suicide for the uninitiated; this is a whole different kind of cycling all together. This is a cycle of a spiritual nature.
Working at Zheng Sheng College is all about sacrifice. Sacrificing time, comfort, expectations, and even personal space is the norm here. It is good spiritual disciplining. It is also something that I thought I desired more than I am finding in reality. Of course this is not unusual because we all find this truth when we go after the truest desires of our heart. We find that there is the dream which lights our eyes and sends our hearts soaring, and then there is the very real work of obtaining that goal. One pastor told me years ago, when he took me under his wing to disciple me, that there was an NFL football coach who told his players that he was going to make them do the things they didn’t want to do so that they could become the players they wanted to be. This is very much what many Hollywood movies are about, especially the true stories. They tell of that person who overcame all those obstacles that life, society, and particularly they themselves put in the way of obtaining the dream. This is also very much like Jesus. He is constantly pushing our buttons and boundaries so that He can release the things that we dream of in the spirit. I know for myself there is a constant stream of visions within me that portray the man I desire to be. I will see myself lovingly devoting myself to my family, passionately pursuing activities to better myself, and pouring myself out for the sake of the gospel at the school. This, though, is the stream of consciousness that flows side by side with the stream which is filled with the debris of a life spent serving myself. This is the analogy I will use in place of Paul’s analogy of being tied to a corpse.
I cycle through seasons when I am able to turn to God to find the power to do those things that will bring Him glory, and also, as happens in God’s economy, fulfill my deepest desires, and seasons when I cannot seem to pry my eyes out of my own navel. These last three days were like that for me. I spent much of my time bemoaning the lack of personal time I get these days, and then becoming upset with those around me who are also in a deficient place, feeling the lack of my presence due to my work schedule. It was a tug-o-war the whole time. The rationalizations didn’t change anything either. In fact, they became like a shovel to just dig the hole deeper. Nobody wanted to hear rationalizations from a grump, but they probably would have appreciated an apology.
None of my feelings are culturally unacceptable these days. We are told all the time that if we spend time on ourselves then we will be happy and healthy. Product advertizing keys into this all the time, whether it is the spa getaway or even just the humble dish soap that will degrease your dinnerware quicker so that you will have more time to yourself, they all tell you that more for you is better for everyone. The only ads I remember that were telling me something different were actually from the Mormon Church, which is really frightening. They may be sailing on a Titanic of doctrine, but their focus on family values is spot on.
The reality of scripture faces this down in no uncertain terms. Losing our lives is the only certain way of finding them. Giving up my “me time” to make sure that my kids know they are loved and valued will always pay a dividend to my emotional stocks. Acting on my wife’s requests for me to plug into some books on homeschooling and parenting will pay off on those date nights when we can really connect about things that are a daily part of her heart. Working past the cultural, and linguistic barriers between the brothers at Zheng Sheng College and I always brings the reward of relationship and trust.
The real key to all of this is trusting God at His word. Two verses come to mind right away when I consider these things. The first one is the one about saving and losing your life, the other one is Psalm 37:4,”Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee all the desires of thine heart.” If I truly trust this then I will spend all my time to delight myself in God and trust in the surety of His reciprocity. This certainly sounds like a good thing, until I come home fried from a long shift, and then the burning smell of rubber on asphalt fills my olfactory orifice. This is where the real simple matters of trust come to bear on all my well intended platitudes spouted off about how much I trust God. Sure, I’ll take my whole family across the globe to serve Him, I’ll live and teach in some very rudimentary conditions, but will I serve the little ones at the end of the day. Will I serve my wife or wait for her to see my needs? Whom will I serve?

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