For several years, Susan and I have felt the need to make a big move in our life; a move closer to the field and back to Asia.
This last July, it began at last. We landed in “Lam”….so much was unclear, uncertain, unplanned. And so much happened right away: connections with a Buddhist professor, a Jordanian Muslim Ph.D. student, a gathering this week of brothers and sisters who are leading movements to Jesus among Muslims in five countries, and also, just life.
I wanted to update everyone about all the so-called important “stuff.”
But this update is about the “just life” part.
We learned a few things here in our first several weeks….
- “If you have the right key to the door in your hand, don’t switch and use the other one”
Seems fair enough. Simple even.
But for maybe 5 days in a row, I (Kevin, yes I will own this), looked down at my hand, saw the right key for the outside door, and for some reason known only to others who have tried to muddle through a different culture, I switched keys before getting the right one to the lock.
In a row.
- “The seat belt always dispenses from the same location as last time. Always. It does not move when the car is parked. Ever.”
Okay, so this is Kevin again. I mastered driving here, using the car our friends loaned us, on the wrong (or is it right?) side of the road, with the gear shift in my left hand….no worries. Well, there was that one time I turned into oncoming traffic, but…MAINLY, no worries.
However, for some reason, every time I got into the driver seat (on the proper side mind you), I looked to my left for the seat belt. It is on the right for the driver here. Always.
You would think, right, that once or twice should be sufficient?
And that seat belt? Never moved. Ever.
- “If you want to go to the train station, don’t drive to the pool.”
Okay, yes, this was Kevin again.
We needed to get to the train to travel to the main city. A little over an hour trip. We were going to meet a potential language helper.
In the car I was talking. I am sure it was about something deep and profound. It had to have been because I was so enthralled I drove directly to the pool, as if we were going to swim laps.
By the way, this is a sign to me that God’s Grace is LAVISH. We like to swim laps for exercise. We found a pool nearby where we could do that occasionally. What kind of God thinks of that simple little gift for His servants? Our God. Amazing, grace in the simplest of things.
But I digress.
The point is that oddly enough, driving to the pool does not get one to the train station, no matter how correctly or efficiently one follows the pool road.
In fact, I can confirm that even remembering which side of the car the seat belt is on does not turn the pool into a train station.
I don’t even think using the right key would do that.
Is there a point?
Oddly enough, I didn’t think so when I started writing this. Honest. I was just going to relate these funny little bits of our life here.
But as I wrote it, it hit me how each of these little scenes is so very much like the history of “mission” in so many cases.
We have the right key…the Gospel…and yet so often we are putting something different into the “lock” of other cultures and are surprised when it doesn’t open. Frequently the key we use is something LIKE the Gospel, but with too many added elements…it doesn’t fit.
We keep trying the same thing over and over. But that seat belt doesn’t move. I have heard some mission workers say “Well, it is up to God so we don’t need to worry about whether what we do works or not…just be faithful.” There is truth in this of course…but sometimes, maybe more than sometimes…it might help to ask if the seat belt maybe, just maybe, is SUPPOSED to come from the side we AREN’T looking at?
And, well, yeah, obviously, if we drive to the wrong place it won’t magically become the right place just because we were trying hard, or sincere, or even very effective….at going to the wrong place.
All of this has caused me to pray as we live here….here in this land that has seen precious little in the way of response to “the right key” from the majority population.
Pray for us…for other Global Teams’ field partners living here now, too (two other families) and for all those, foreign and local, who are seeking to plant seeds of new life here.
Looking at that key in my hand…
Kevin and Susan