Nov 19, 2011

Out of the Box

"'I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. '" Matthew 17:20

So in my previous post, I wrote that it wasn't necessarily my last. I left it open so that five months later, while working the early shift at the WWU girls' dorm front desk, I could pick things up and write again. And after spending the last hour reading through my past posts, I figured I needed to write a new one.

It's 34 F here. I'm going to be driving home for Thanksgiving in a couple hours, over the snowy Snoqualmie Pass. My new computer is filled with reports and assignments for my fall quarter classes. I haven't eaten rice in over a week. I haven't seen the ocean since Manila.

Things are different now. But I guess that's obvious.

In looking back and re-imagining my days as a student missionary, it doesn't seem to fit into my life's timeline. Well, not completely. It does in the sense that I felt like I hardly knew anyone upon returning to Walla Walla. It seems perfectly obvious when I tell people I'm "technically a sophomore." But when I read my own words about being in the experience, see the pictures of people and places that I loved, it another life. It's like I was progressing along on my timeline, and then I was whisked away to another timeline completely, and after zooming to the end of that line, I was dropped back into the first timeline.

--Life----Life----Life---/                                                         /---Life----Life----Life--
                                           SM Life---SM Life---SM Life

It's so strange. Like a complex dream.

So have I missed the Philippines? Yes, of course. Do I ache for it? Sometimes, randomly, infrequently. It's hard to allow myself the ability to think about it, although I find I talk about my experience a lot. But I don't usually catch myself replaying the walk through Subec or conjuring the picture of the sky before sunrise. It will hit me at odd times. Like in class.

My favorite class this quarter has been Introduction to Faith and Ministry, the introductory course for students pursuing a career in pastoral, chaplaincy, or missiological ministry (oh, yeah, I'm doing that now). One day in class we talked about caring for people, since we will be primarily working with people in our ministries. As the lecture/discussion continued, my mind was drawn away, back to the houses of friends in distant barangay. They were my people, and here I had no idea of how they were doing. There in class we were talking about aspects of listening to, praying for, processing life with people. We were talking about it. I wanted to be doing it! I missed my people.

I was just reading my previous blog about movement. To recap, I talked about how by praying and committing your every step to God, He tends to show you where you ought to go, what words to say, what actions to take. All you really have to do is start moving and let Him guide you along.

I don't feel like I'm moving. Or if I am, it's very slow movement. Maybe it has something to do with my days having to be so planned. I don't feel as great a need of dependence on God to direct my every step. Ouch. That hurts to admit. But that shouldn't be the case.

People often talk about "putting God in a box," having a limited view of who God is or what God can do. I've had conversations on such matters and how having such a perspective on God can limit His work in one's life. But I think another great danger is putting yourself in a box, too. If we were created by a boxless, limitless, God, and if He is the guiding force of our lives, doesn't that mean that through Him, in a way, we are limitless too? Before you take me for a heretic, remember that Jesus Himself said that by God's will, we as humans can move mountains. I don't know about you, but I don't usually consider "mountain moving" as one of my areas of expertise. But that's just the point: it's God who does it through us, not we ourselves. Because God is limitless, His work within and through us is limitless too.

But I feel limited. Limited by my status, by my schedule, by my location, by my now seeming lack of knowledge. In returning to America, I've put myself in a box. And if I'm in a box, that means the work God wants to do through me is placed in that box, too. And if we're both in a box, there's not going to be a lot of movement going on.

And here I want to serve and minister and do things beyond imagining for God and His people. But as long as I view myself as being constricted and surrounded on all sides, I will be just that. Limited. Motionless.

So consider this a day of breaking free. I choose to live limitless. I choose to weave a life directed by a limitless God, no matter the current circumstances. And as I step out of my box, I have the freedom to move, the freedom to be directed into the great--truly great--unknown. No matter what timeline I'm on or where I am on it, I will keep moving and praying and working and thanking God for the beautiful sights along the way.

I choose to keep going.