Today was a relaxing day in Japan…in fact, I had the guest house all to myself for much of the morning. The head cold has still had me in its grips…the Japanese cold medicine that Shingi gave me is NOT tasting any better but I'm feeling a bit better as I write this late on Saturday night.
More and more Japanese people are taking weekends off (from what I've been told). This is a pretty industrious nation…people work hard and it shows. But today, cold temperatures, snow and a sense of "relaxation" in the air inspired most of us to take it easy.
I had plenty of time to spend in prayer today. Had a couple of conversations over the phone with my wife and a friend which led me to a day of seeking the Lord concerning the coming days and weeks ahead. As I've shared before, there is no reason to doubt how God has led our steps…from the beginning of our journey into the LC-MS, our growing relationship with our spiritual community (Friendship Celebration), and the initiation of the Project, the Lord has been a God of action guiding our steps through a miraculous set of circumstances to bring about His will. Then, a trip to Japan which really was a gift to me in actually seeing with my own eyes the realities of what it takes to live a life as a missionary in a strange land…I have shared with many of you often that that is the mindset that is missing in much of the expressions of American Christianity and faith. If only we could catch the fact that our identity as followers of Jesus is wrapped up in this idea of being on a mission in a strange land. We've grown too comfortable, too apathetic and too at ease with our faith – it doesn't light a fire within our souls…it doesn't feel like revolutionary "good news" any longer…it is rather too familiar and thus almost irrelevant.
I don't see that here in Japan…is this the place to emulate? No! May it never be! We have been given a specific context and sphere for our lives and ministries by the Lord Himself…He's given US the mission field that we inhabit. We are not to try to copy but rather listen, see and respond faithfully within our context to bring and live the good news of the Kingdom. I don't think I'll ever forget what I've seen and heard here…and how it made all my reading, thoughts, conversations, writings, etc. make sense by seeing it lived in actual lives…yes, we have a treasure in clay jars…but it is a precious treasure that transforms our hearts and lives…that transformation prepares us and equips us for the special tasks that each of us have at hand…that being an emissary for Jesus in our time and place and in our relationships.
Besides that, nothing much – we had pot-stickers tonight and some other food that wasn't scary. Merlyn ate something that only one other of our Japanese hosts ate…it was pink, had floating pieces of squid in it and looked like chum! But he and Kazako (our hostess) ate it on their white rice while the rest of us protected ourselves from any sort of oral or other sensory intrusion.
Tomorrow is worship again and the gathering of the "brothers and sisters" at the building here in Miyota. I asked Shingi if I could share a scripture, thoughts and prayers tomorrow…he said he would be delighted if I felt so inspired to do so.
So, without any further delay, I"m going to take another packet of that medicine and hit the bed. More tomorrow as the journey continues. Thank you so much for keeping this trip and my participation with this fellowship in prayer…in light of the tragedy in Haiti and the other concerns that pass our lives which call us to prayer, I'm honored that you would pray for me. I remember you in prayer as well!