Monday, January 25, 2010

My “Jacob” Sabbatical


I would love to tell you that I decided to be a student missionary because I am super connected to God and He whispered in my ear to go, but that’s not true. I would love to tell you that I decided to be a student missionary because I want to do everything in my power to advance the gospel and reach out to the people of Kazakhstan, but that’s not true either. I would love to tell you that I became a student missionary because I’m adventurous and I want to journey across all of the farthest lands, but that’s not true either. Sure, there is some truth in all of these, but none of them are the main reasons for my coming here. You see, many people view me as a spiritual leader and I am honored to be viewed in such esteem, but I am just an ordinary teenage boy who struggles in his own battles and fights for a stronger faith. I love doing the Lord’s work and being used by Him, but He does not use me because of my great talents and abilities that is certain.

Truth be told I came to Kazakhstan to run away. Run away from a terrible life? Not at all. Run away from certain people? Nothing of the sort. I came to Kazakhstan to run away from monotony and comfort. To get out and live a better story. College is great, but it is tiring when people are always telling you what and how to think. Dictating what to read and how to spend your time. I know it is necessary and all of my professors have good intentions, but I needed time to escape and think my own thoughts. I needed to experience God in my own way, not the way an institution tells me. Before I left I joked with some people that this was to be my Sabbatical where I was going to read and write and think deep thoughts. So now I’m here. How is all of this coming? Well, I certainly am busy. Teaching English is not for the faint of heart, but a Sabbatical it is. Right now I am sitting in my kitchen typing this and enjoying the view of twisted tree branches sagging down as they try to hold up their burden of several inches of snow. I am sitting here, next to the furnace, and sipping on my tea as I reflect on my first week here. That is something that I think most Americans, and other cultures, rob themselves of—time to reflect. Reflecting is one of the single most valuable things that a person can do. Sure, it’s a bit scary as you venture off into the realms of your own mind and dig up past experiences, but without our experiences, we have no character and without our character, we are just a mass of water, some other squishy stuff, and bones. So far, I am loving my “Sabbatical.” As for my walk with Love, it is coming along. I’m learning to walk by faith, to trust in Him even when I don’t “feel” anything special. Believe it or not, missionaries don’t get this crazy spiritual high once they get off the plane. It’s quite disappointing really. But, believe me I have already had many prayers answered and have learned to rely on Him so much more. But, I haven’t seen the Red Sea split apart yet and no chariots of fire have shown up outside my apartment. Regardless, I am on the slow journey to discovering my story and getting to know the Author a little better. God is not a simple Being that we can cram into our Western way of thinking or into any human thinking at all. I am working to get to know this amazing Creator the way He wants me to know Him without the ropes of doctrines and words, of preconceived notions and personal ideas. It’s just Him and I now, one on one, and I will not let go until He blesses me, and this time, I am wrestling for more than a name.

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