Year Four: ?????

A few weeks ago we celebrated four years since our move to Asia. I’ve been trying to write something since then and have had trouble gathering together our year into something that makes sense. Honestly, this past year was really weird.  We spent the first half of our fourth year in the U.S. for our first home assignment, then returned to spend the second half in Asia.  Our time in the U.S. was very nomadic- we just had much fancier digs than a yurt.

I can’t neatly wrap this year up and tuck it away in a box on the shelf. It feels so fragmented and unusual, even for our consistently inconsistent life.  Right now I’m very much feeling the inconclusiveness with which we all live, knowingly or not.  God certainly brought conclusion to some things, like where we would be living.  On its own, that ordeal was 10 months beginning to end.  We were thankful for an end and thankful God made a way for us to continue where we have been living.

We’ve had a lot of unknowns and changes come into our lives personally, work-wise, with government issues/instability/volatility where we live and several places we work, with human rights issues in the region and the list goes on and on. So much of it is very complicated and strange.  We feel like we don’t have a voice or a way to enact change in a lot of it.  Of course, we know a great God who sees and knows so much more about all of it than we do.  We have certainly brought these things to Him in prayer.  And we will continue on with life while waiting to see how things unfold and what becomes known of the unknowns.

Our return from the U.S. made me once again very much aware of the spiritual darkness that surrounds us.  The darkness can feel very heavy and burdensome at times, particularly to me with the gifts and sensitivities God has given me. It’s a reminder how vital the role God has placed me in to be present in our community so I may reflect the Son’s light in our daily lives.  God has been gracious to show me seemingly quiet and subtle ways He uses me where we live.

This year, unlike our others on the field, we had an opportunity to miss our Asian home.  We were more aware than ever before that no matter where we are in the world, we are always missing someone and we are always being missed. It’s wonderful to have people in so many places that have become part of our “village.”  It’s hard that our village will never all be in one place this side of heaven.  One of many paradoxes that come with this life.

God has worked in our lives this year.  We have these lives, these paths we’re on.  So much of what comes on the path ahead of us is a mystery. We serve and love a mysterious God, so our paths being mysterious seems fitting. We know the path for our natural lives ends in physical death and for our spiritual lives we have assurance of eternal life through Christ.  I feel like what happens from now until then is rather blurry.  God has blessed me this year by giving me weaknesses, taking things away for which I mourned, putting obstacles in my path, and challenging me with difficult decisions.  I know these blessings have helped shape me for what is to come.

I don’t know what I will be saying this time next year.  Maybe our lives will be more just consistently inconsistent without as much instability and maybe slightly fewer unknowns. Or maybe everything will seem to have completely fallen apart. I don’t know. It’s okay to not know. It’s okay not have a “but….” about it all. It’s okay to just say that I know God loves me and He is present with me and leave it at that.

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