This has been a busy and quite varied week! As I sit to write a post, I can’t quite think of any one, overarching, extremely valuable lesson or experience. But there have been several smaller things, and here are a few:

You’re Really Not Afraid?
On my three hour flight to Guangzhou on Monday, I was sitting next to a young businessman whose English was great, so we got to talking. We talked about all sorts of things, not least of which were some of the deep questions of life, such as, “What is your purpose in life?” or “What do you think about God?” After a bit, the plane started to experience a lot of turbulence. As the man gripped the seat in front of him with white knuckles, he explained to me, “I’m terrified of airplanes.” It was pretty easy to empathize with him – the turbulence got worse and worse. And even though I was nervous too, I have that inner peace that comes from total surrender to God. I have literally given Him my very self, whether I live or die. And I guess he noticed. At one point in the midst of it, he asked me, “So, you’re really not afraid?” And I got to explain to him just a bit more that when I say I trust in God, I really do. It’s not just a phrase that I say when everything is going smoothly in life. Rather, it’s the times of turbulence that really show to others the reality of our faith.

Follow the Map
On the last afternoon of my stay in Guangzhou, I had almost 2 hours of free time before the group dinner together at the hotel. I was exhausted, so I thought I would just relax in my room, but I couldn’t waste the opportunity to see something beautiful and unique in a new place. Everyone else I knew from the program was going shopping, which was the last thing I wanted to do. So I pulled out the big, paper, city map in Chinese that they’d given us a few days before. I found the hotel, and located the closest patch of green on the map. It was some kind of “Martyr’s Memorial,” which didn’t sound too promising, but I headed out as the time ticked off the clock. 

After orienting the map to what I figured was probably north, I headed down the street toward the green on my paper. Upon reaching the end of the street, I wasn’t quite sure where to go next. Luckily there was a policeman directing traffic who helped me read the map during a red light. He sent me on my way, and within 10 minutes I found the gate to the memorial. The whole park was beautiful, full of lush trees and flowers, grass and sculptures, ponds and pagodas. I was amazed that the only people in the park were old men and women playing chess or doing tai chi. I wished that there were more people out there who took the time to find this beautiful, peaceful spot and rest a bit.
On the way back, I stopped to tell the policeman that I’d found it, and thank him. And then it was a straight shot back to the hotel with a few minutes to spare. As I came back into the hotel, I almost regretted the wi-fi that would so quickly be connecting me back to the rest of the world. I was struck with the pleasant simplicity that I’d found in just depending on the map. There’s something beautiful about a trustworthy map, I thought, and the parallel was so simple too that I just grinned. The Map I use every day is even better. 

Grace to Give
As I’ve been mentally preparing for this first week of my classes beginning tomorrow, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed and discouraged. I still don’t really know why; I’m asking God to fix that. With Dan and Sherry over the weekend, we talked about it a bit. Then this morning, Sherry was really impacted by 2 Corinthians 9, and wanted me and Dan to read it too. In the chapter, Paul is talking to the Corinthians about their monetary gifts to the other Christians, but I think the truths he writes of apply just as much to giving of ourselves. Read a bit (emphasis mine!):
“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written,
“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”
Through this passage, I was reminded once again that everything, even the seed that we sow, comes from God through grace. There’s no part of this that God wants me to do on my own. I just allow Him to work in me, and He will!

So there are a few little tidbits from this week. Keep an eye out for what God is teaching you!


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