Tonight after dinner I made a bath (Japanese style, of course). The unusual thing about that is that it wasn’t for the kids — it was for me. After I put them down, I just needed to soak. To be.
After looking for a GPS that I had misplaced, Eric left with that to drive our friend Peter to pick up a van in Kobe. Peter will be leaving tomorrow for 4 days up in Tohoku with the group that sponsored the prayer time we attended in Osaka. Their group, the B-1 house church network, has been doing great, consistent tsunami relief, sending supplies up twice a week from a network of Japanese Christians and missionaries. Eric interacted with Chad, the leader, a number of times while up in Sendai. We are praying about Eric going on the next run, leaving this coming Tuesday.
This week my attention has been necessarily drawn to helping our three older children get adjusted back into school and all of the necessary paperwork and school supplies that come with that. I would give myself about a C- in terms of being on the ball this week! This morning after biking Olivia to school I had to bike over to Owen and Annie’s classes and take their gym clothes, both of which were my fault. Last night I dug through the trash clad in Laytex gloves looking for Annie’s nametag for school; Eric found it had slipped into a box in the hallway. I am just barely making it day to day, it seems.. .and pray my kids don’t suffer too much for it!
I have been thinking about what has been going on this week that has made me feel so draggy and unable to cope at full capacity. One thing that has distracted my thinking and praying is that we went and looked at a home for rent last Saturday that is a real possibility… That is exciting! But it is not in the neighborhood I would have chosen (the kids will still go to the same schools – actually be closer! – but the house is on a rather private road that feels a bit stodgy). So we have been praying and talking to friends and praying some more. Still praying the owner will lower the rent one more time….
But I think as April 11th marked one month from the beginning of the Japan tragedies, and was marked by repeated aftershocks – again and again! — I feel weary of the suffering across Japan. The announcement that the nuclear threat level has been raised from 5 to 7; the perameter expanded; increase in suicides and utter despair; many who still need basic necessities… we are far away and yet I feel quite weary.
So tonight, I am sitting listening to Vivaldi’s cello concertos, praying, reading, and journaling. Here are two things that I have been reading that are unrelated and yet bring together my absolute need to be tethered to my master.
From A Praying Life, by Paul Miller: (I went back and re-read this as we pray about this possible rental home):
“Abiding is a perfect way to describe a praying life. For example, many Christians who are thinking of buying a vacation home might even pray, asking God practical questions, such as “Can we afford it?” “Will it be too much work?” “Should we make an offer on this house?” These are good questions. But we seldom ask God heart questions such as “Will a second home elevate us above people?” “Will it isolate us?” In the first set of questions, God is your financial advisor. In the second set, he has become your Lord. You are abiding. You are feeding your soul with food that lasts.” (pg 143)
I read this paragraph with relief, actually. these are the very questions we are asking God about this house. If it is not an excellent place to center our ministry, we don’t want it! If this home keeps people away, we would rather stay in our smaller, cozy home. (You can pray with us about this home – we would appreciate it.)
But then I read some notes that were sent to our missionaries from our friend Scott Shaum, who was the speaker at our retreat last month. He wrote about living a mindful life. This paragraph didn’t make me feel as comfortable:
Living a mindful life is living on purpose at all times. I do not just do things because they need to be done. Jesus never did. If you read the Gospels carefully you will see that Jesus left people in their needs. Yes, he tended to many, many needs. He healed and delivered and comforted many people. But there were many more that he did not tend to. He sought solitude. He sought time alone with the Apostles even if that meant walking away from others with their needs (see Mark 6:30-32 for just one example). Jesus was never driven by need. He was driven by purpose – the Fatherʼs purpose for him in any given moment. We as well must never be driven by need.
I have not felt very mindful this week. I have felt very busy, and very scattered. I think Jesus was busy too – but He was purposeful. I am very driven by others’ needs – at least as I perceive them. There will continue to be many, many needs in Japan, both here in our community and more so up in the disaster zone. But God is not calling me to care for all of those needs, but rather to be mindful, seeking His purposes. I am sure that finding ways and means to be more mindful and tethered to Jesus will decrease my scatteredness, increase my love for my family and those around me, and allow me to focus on what he is calling me to.