I should write. I really need to write. It’s been too long, and I think this will help me process this past month.
Well, today marks Day 28 in Korea. What a crazy month this has been. On November 10, I landed in Seoul, South Korea and hopped the first bus to Gyeongju, which was a miracle due to the timing. I bought my bus ticket seven minutes before the bus was about to leave. And somehow I made a phone call to my connection in Korea and found my bus in those seven minutes.
Anyway, I have not left Gyeongju this past month, but it’s been a mystery of a city and time has flown. I live in Dongcheon-dong, which is a subdivision of this city that was settled by refugees after World War II. So I’m one of three white people I have seen here. The streets are lined with coffee shops, restaurants, and bakeries. It’s been ideal in a number of ways. I’m about 3 blocks from Lotte Super, which is a Japanese-owned supermarket. I’m only a mile or so from Downtown, which is full of American clothing stores and even has a McDonald’s and a Starbucks. However, all these shops sit right beside these large burial mounds that are the resting place of ancient emperors from the Shilla Dynasty. I should add that this city was founded in 56 BCE. It’s just a perfect city with one foot very clearly in the past and another very clearly in the future.
The private academy, hagwon, that I teach at has been great. I teach from 3-9 everyday and work with one other American teacher and some Korean teachers. Everyone has been super kind and has made this past month a really great transition. My students are so much fun. They are anywhere from the ages of 6 to 15, and I have an adult class in the evening. It’s been a unique experience adjusting to the differences in the educational system, but I’m learning the ropes.
However, I have realized that I will never understand Korea. With its unique cultural and proud heritage, it is a country that cannot be fully understood in a year, maybe not even in a lifetime. They have so much to be proud of! In about one generation, an impoverished society became one of the most developed nations in the world. This can be seen in the fact that everyone from children to aging grandparents have smartphones and know how to use them. Neon signs illuminate each night with flashing Hangul characters. Truly, this is a unique blend of worlds that I am only starting to understand.
Also, my Korean is pretty poor. I really want to learn more, but it’s such a challenge for me. However, some Koreans have told me that my pronounciation is really good, which makes me happy. Also, an older gentleman, I believe his name was Dr. Cho, told me that my chopstick skills were impressive. That meant the world to me. Ha!
I hope this makes sense. I need to wrap this up, but I just wanted to get some thoughts out there. I’m considering making a blog specifically for my time in Korea soon. :)
And suddenly it hits me, growing up is the replacing of the warmth of childhood for the chill of adulthood. The cozy dependence of my youth becomes the icy independence that I once craved.
But that’s just it; none of us are truly independent. We’re all dependent on something. Whether it’s a transcendent being, people, or belongings, people are depending on something.
The most independent person in the world is a cold empty room of a man. The warmth of life has been replaced by feelings that are more secure and protected. It replaces intimate connections for a distance that is too wide for any man to cross. But that’s what an independent person wants, the freedom from any entanglements that would replace the desire to be alone.
However, independence is a lie. And if it is true, it must be found dwelling in the most miserable man on earth. And I have yet to find this man.
I’ll follow my Christ who loves me so, Wherever He leads I’ll go."
Stephen Lum // Second That Emotion
One of the issues most talked about recently has been that of the human body, and it’s usually in the context of overexposure or inaccurate portrayals of beauty, but I realized something about five minutes ago.
The human body is a work of art. In fact, every human body is a work of art, whether they invest all their time and energy into perfecting it or whether they’re lax in how they approach it; the body is still art. One cannot deny the complexities of the brain or the construction of the arm or the sturdy structure of the legs and feet. The body is truly remarkable.
But yet art in its purest form is truly mysterious. There is an element of mystery in every great piece that the artist seems to leave out. The secret of the piece is the delight and pleasure of the artist alone. This is something that causes me to pause as I reflect upon the human body. It’s a complex piece yet there is an element of mystery that is needed. As the operators of our bodies, there are elements that are best covered and shrouded in mystery. For instance, I think clothes are a necessity that give the body its sense of mystery. Furthermore, not sharing all of one’s thoughts further covers the body in a fog of mystery. Because we cannot read one another’s minds, we are all covered in mystery as our brains continue to tinker on.
But then I realized that all that is truly beautiful has an element of mystery. The girl that catches your eye as she walks by has an element of mystery that draws you to her. The sky that hangs overhead day after day has an element of mystery that entices the young to dream and the old to reminisce. The ultimate beauty, God, is also shrouded in mystery. We know Him in part yet if we completely knew God, He would not be truly God or beautiful. The fact that He is infinite and that His ways are mysterious (Isaiah 55:8-9) make Him the most beautiful being that we could ever desire. Your were wired to desire beauty, but that desire is infinite and must be fulfilled by an infinite God.
Thus, I wonder if the neo-paganism that has been unleashed in American society is trying to destroy the mystery of life. By picking up the goals and accomplishments of the modernist age, it is not trying to only explain everything but also expose everything. People used to just desire to explore the answers of the universe but now we are trying to expose the human body and, even deeper still, the human soul in ways that are grotesque and unnatural.
Oh that we would embrace the mystery of creation instead of simply pursuing an unlimited knowledge of good and evil (with a greater emphasis on evil)!
A river reaches places which its source never knows. And Jesus said that, if we have received His fullness, “rivers of living water” will flow out of us, reaching in blessing even “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8) regardless of how small the visible effects of our lives may appear to be. We have nothing to do with the outflow— “This is the work of God, that you believe…” (John 6:29). God rarely allows a person to see how great a blessing he is to others.
A river is victoriously persistent, overcoming all barriers. For a while it goes steadily on its course, but then comes to an obstacle. And for a while it is blocked, yet it soon makes a pathway around the obstacle. Or a river will drop out of sight for miles, only later to emerge again even broader and greater than ever. Do you see God using the lives of others, but an obstacle has come into your life and you do not seem to be of any use to God? Then keep paying attention to the Source, and God will either take you around the obstacle or remove it. The river of the Spirit of God overcomes all obstacles. Never focus your eyes on the obstacle or the difficulty. The obstacle will be a matter of total indifference to the river that will flow steadily through you if you will simply remember to stay focused on the Source. Never allow anything to come between you and Jesus Christ— not emotion nor experience— nothing must keep you from the one great sovereign Source.
Think of the healing and far-reaching rivers developing and nourishing themselves in our souls! God has been opening up wonderful truths to our minds, and every point He has opened up is another indication of the wider power of the river that He will flow through us. If you believe in Jesus, you will find that God has developed and nourished in you mighty, rushing rivers of blessing for others."
I think it’s really essential that I write out my thoughts on what I’ve been going through, especially this past week or two.
About a month ago, I started a 40 day period of consecration. It wasn’t fasting necessarily; it was more a period of bringing my mind and flesh into the subjection of my soul. Every thought of worry or despair or not from God was replaced with a refocusing of my gaze upon Him. This truly was so difficult because my pursuit of God had become so counterproductive as I made strides to God but then got caught in the traps of my flesh.
Anyway, this past week or two, I have felt an exceeding amount of pressure. Deep feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness have been uncovered. On Sunday night, I sat in one of my best friend’s small NYC apartment complaining about everything that wasn’t going right in my life. Just unloading the thoughts and cares that I have been cultivating my whole life. The wheat and the weeds of my life had grown together (Matthew 13:24-30) and God has been graciously separating them during this season.
But I think the hardest part for me has been to do that apart from community. To have hope and faith apart from community is one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever encountered. To know that people you love all across the world are working in communities to uplift and raise one another up can kill a man inside. To know that you have tasted the sweetness of community but have been separated is something very hard to handle.
However, this desert season of waiting alone upon the Lord is not some individualistic attempt to know God. No. It’s a very real state of the soul that every man and woman must go through when pursuing the face of God. To bypass this stage is to not grow to one’s full potential. But to endure through this season and love God every step of this dark path leads to one of the richest rewards in the human soul.
Here all the hopes and fears of man are flung upon the hands of God. No other person, being, or entity will do. Only Jesus will carry this great weight. The weight of uncertainty. The weight of brokenness. The weight of insecurity. The weight of hopelessness.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m flinging every care upon Him. I’m utterly confused and hopeless at this point. Every door I thought would open by now has remained shut. Some show signs of opening, but I see God being glorified through this process.
In fact, I believe that God is going to receive all the glory for this. I have NO clue what I’m doing. That means whatever good comes from my life from this point on has to be from God. Whatever blessings enter my life from this point on are directly from the hand of God. Whatever joys my heart knows from this point on are grace gifts from the heart of God.
My whole life is Your doing. I believe You’re doing a good thing in me. I believe that my heart will know Your goodness in the land of the living. You’ve been faithful before, and You’ll be faithful again.
|Before even finishing this blog post, I got an encouraging phone call from an international organization I hope to work for. He discusses with me some different options to potentially move overseas in October or November. God is good. He’s answering prayers already.|
All those years bound in shame
He is setting me free
His love goes deeper than the pain that I feel
His love is stronger than depression and fear"
If God is slow to grant your request and you do not receive what you ask for promptly, do not be grieved, for you are not wiser than God.
It this happens to you, it is because either your way of life does not accord with your request, or because the pathways of your heart are at odds with the intention of your prayer.
Or it may be because your inner state is too childish by comparison with the magnitude of the thing you have asked for.
It is not appropriate that great things should fall easily into our hands, otherwise God’s gift will be held in dishonor, because of the ease with which we obtain it.
For anything that is readily obtained is also easily lost, whereas everything which is found with toil is preserved with care.
- Isaac of Syria