I’ve spent the last couple of days reading through my blog. I’m amazed at how much I’ve written about pretty much the same thing. There were times when thoughts and questions flowed and I posted frequently. There were other times where everything dried up and I hardly wrote anything at all. There were seasons where I got distracted, focusing on denominational politics and organizational frustrations, and long periods of a broader, hopefully more kingdom-centered focus.
God has taught me a lot since I’ve been on the mission field. I’m really not the same man I was when I left the United States. From my national friends, I’ve picked up a passion for social awareness and action. I’ve moved away from distinguishing between “spiritual” and “everything else.” I now value environmental stewardship. I have put away (or, at least tried to put away) willful ignorance. I believe strongly in promoting peace. I recognize the sanctity of all life, instead of just being “anti-abortion.”
I have a new love for the freedom of expression, and I oppose the stifling of dissent. I’m excited by asking questions, and I’m content with the unknown. I’m realizing how little I know about anything at all, and yet how much my former worldview required me to be all-knowing. I’ve learned that you really can camp out on the philosophical “slippery slope,” and that agreeing with people I disagree with or don’t like isn’t the end of the world.
I have learned to worship without music or a guy with a guitar. I have come to realize that prayer should be a two-way conversation between God and me. I’m working on reading the Bible for what it says and what the Holy Spirit illuminates to me instead of picking verses that support my arguments. I’ve altogether quit thinking of the church as a building with a paid staff and youth group games on Wednesday nights.
I came here to tell people about Jesus. Now I realize the power of publicly living out the joys and struggles of my faith. Though I still struggle, I can now see through the lies of materialism. I find my identity in Christ instead of my profession or the successes of my ministry. I’ve learned not to assume that I know what’s going on around me spiritually. I’ve come to enjoy the spirituality of conversation with believers. I’ve learned a lot from fellowship with people who don’t believe.
I drink more coffee (if that were possible). I talk with my hands. I shout at people while I’m driving. I’m a lot more patient about waiting in line, but protective of my place in it. I don’t pretend to cough just to make a point when someone is smoking nearby. I listen to music just for fun. I think in two languages (with really bad grammar in both.) I ride a bike. I recycle. I speak in a quieter voice in public. I wear sensible (yet stylish) shoes.
No, I’m not the same guy I was. Hopefully, I’m a little bit more like who God wants me to be.