"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
1 Corinthians 10:13
1 Corinthians 10:13
Hong Kong is really beginning to feel like home. There was a specific moment when I realized this actually. It was the day we took our flight out to the Philippines. As we sat on the bus I looked out at the water and mountains with the city skyscrapers in the back and realized I was falling in love with Hong Kong. Its an incredible place, and there is for sure no other place like it. Hong Kong has all you could ever want - the city with all it's entertainment, the peace of the mountains, and the breeze of the sea.
After I came back from the Philippines, I lost sight of that moment when crossing the bridge. Fortunately, the feelings that washed over me that day have been restored, and I've been using this renewed excitement to embrace the Eastern traditions of this city.
So this is where I want to apologize. I want to say sorry for any time that I have presented a sugar-coated Gospel, talking only of the peace and joy and happiness that comes from the Lord and acting as if the Christian life is nothing but rainbows and butterflies. It is far from that. In fact, it's extremely difficult and I, like everyone, have hurts and weaknesses that sometimes feel unbearable. There are times that I feel overcome with grief, sadness, loneliness, and all around hurt. Yet even Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, and the most beautiful truth is that He understands our temptations and shortcomings! We all have them, and while the church has made such topics taboo - real Christians struggle with real issues like pornography, depression, greed, pride, low body image, alcoholism, and a number of other things. The point I'm trying to make, is that the church shouldn't be what we fear in these moments of hardship, it should be the place and people we feel most safe to run to - but are they? I'll be the first to admit that I can be a hypocrite. When I face a problem I just want to talk to someone who I know won't judge me and will listen and sit with me in my hurt. Yet when others come to me in the same context I am often the first to aim at a quick fix and tell them they need simply to lift their burdens to God and everything will be okay. Now, yes of course in Christian discipleship we should point others to Jesus - but let's face it, life hurts sometimes (a lot of times) and when there is an issue or a temptation sometimes it requires a long time to overcome. So telling someone to put a quick band aid on a huge wound is not meeting that persons real need, which is long-term, daily, continual rehabilitation.
All that said, I've become more aware of those people in my life who know my deepest issue and who have said the quick "I'm praying for you" (so many thoughts on this line but I'll bite my tongue) and those who have actually walked with me through it. I remember specifically sitting in the kitchen of my little one-bedroom apartment, crying to my mom about hurt and depression. "I just want to move to China and live with monks on a mountain or something," and my mom saying "Sarah you could move to the jungle and live with monkeys for all I care, I just want you happy." Who would have thought that two and a half years later here I am learning the art of meditation in China. That's right, this morning I had my first go at meditation with my new "teacher," Wendy. By the time I had finished I had lost feeling in my hands and felt incredibly relaxed. This art which Wendy calls "mindfulness" is a way of focusing on the here and now, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. The simple act of focusing on your breath is actually not so simple at all. I realized that there are many times that we are told to meditate; whether it be with Scripture, a decision, or in devotion, but many of us have not actually been taught this skill. You see I'm a thinker and a planner, and those things combined can lead to a very-easily distracted devotional time. For this reason I often have to journal my prayers or highlight Scripture to tune my focus. Yet there are many times that I still fall into distraction or allow myself to cut my time short because of alllll the things I have to do that day (lousy excuse). So I feel that learning the art of meditation and the skill of focusing on here and now - will actually allow me to better dwell in the Spirit of the Lord and live each day, listening and submitting to Him.