The spectacles vary from day to day…
Today there was a rather putrid smell in the air – a strange blend of raw sewage and wet, nutty coffee grounds. My concern over the smell intensified as I approached a small river rushing over the sidewalk with no bridge or detour providing a means to avoid walking through it. They were further confirmed as the smell dissipated with distance. Thankfully my trek through the rapids didn’t soak my pants or my shoes and I am now safely on the other side, odor free.
I’m also fascinated by the traffic here. Not the street traffic - the sidewalk traffic. Sidewalks aren’t the safe-haven they claim to be. One must be careful to dodge the hoards of people on a mission who, with all the space in the world to maneuver on their side, refuse to change course, forcing their opponent into a finely choreographed dance through the masses (this is most common at crosswalks). And people aren’t the only threat. Once the crowd clears (or not), one must be mindful of sidewalk bicycles, motorcycles and the occasional car. It’s always a bit unsettling to hear horns blaring behind me, thinking I am safe and sound from whatever incident incited the commotion, only to discover that they're blaring at me… on the sidewalk!! How dare I walk so cavalierly on a pedestrian path!
My favorite thing is to walk while listening to my iPod. I love the soundtrack it provides for the odd reality that is now my own. The music adds color and dimension to the world swirling about me. Accompanied by the right song, the old man transporting his toddler grandson on the handlebars of his bicycle becomes less dangerous and more daring. The children weaving through the market, dodging grown-ups and giant slabs of pork shoulder become that much more carefree and entertaining. The work-worn faces of the villagers building the next sky rise become more vivid and pained and beloved. Eyes become landscapes of hopelessness. Smiles become reminders of redemption. It’s amazing, the power music has. My simple walk to work transforms into a pilgrimage where humanity dazzles in its frailty and creation dances with expectation. It’s beautiful.
Spring is finally beginning to make its appearance in Qingdao – though timidly. The frigid edge in the breeze is still present, but the trees are budding and sun is shining, and it seems as though it might be time to retire my big puffy coat (it was so good to me). With this change in weather, I’m sensing a change in season for myself as well. I don’t really know how to explain it… I don’t feel anxious. I don’t feel overwhelmed with searching out and discovering some grand purpose beyond what I’m doing now. In fact, I’m finding a great deal of purpose in this season of solitude. In the aloneness and the quiet. Yesterday I had a good cry while reading and journaling from the Word.
Here’s my entry…
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
I’ve always focused on the first part of this verse. It somehow seems easier to dwell on how often I fall short in this area; how I need to work harder and die more frequently. My flesh must die so Christ can live through me. And while this is true, I think it might be more productive for me to focus on the latter part: the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me. Why in the world would He do that?! I just can’t understand it. I can’t comprehend a love for me so great and so perfect that it would be provoked to die on my behalf. What makes me so worthwhile? What makes me worth dying for? I know I should die for Him. But it’s incomprehensible that He would die for me.
A still small voice whispers… “Jaime, you were worth dying for.”
I am loved beyond what I could ever hope or imagine to be. This love is greater than fairy tale or fantasy because it’s real. It’s true. And I don’t have to just hope for it someday. I get it now. I get to live every day surrounded by and saturated in this love. The crazy, irrational love that seems only to exist in fiction is afforded to me in the
extravagant love of Christ.
extravagant love of Christ.
Revelations like this will be what shape my time in China, and ultimately, my life. Being here alone allows the Lord room to speak directly to my heart, to whisper His opinions in my ear, and to complete me (Hebrews 13:11 - repair, prepare, adjust, equip, make fully ready) for whatever lies ahead. I too often seek these things from the mouths of people. He’s taken me to a place where ready access to a prophetic voice is found only in His Word and at His feet.
It’s frightening, to be honest. I argue with Him constantly and remind Him that I’m no good at this. I’m not good at intimacy and consistency. Yet He pursues. I’m not here to prove myself. He brought me here to prove Himself… to me.