Sunday, January 18, 2009
I was reading through old journal entries this afternoon and stumbled across this. It was written just a few months after our arrival in Vietnam.
"...As I was steeping my coffee this morning--Vietnamese style with the stainless steel filter and fine grounds--I noticed a strange marketing slogan across the front of the coffee package. The coffee is from a Vietnamese maker, but for whatever reason, the slogan is in broken English. It reads “Give you Source Inspiration of New Creation.”
I’ve struggled lately to find a source of inspiration of any sort. That’s probably why this caught my attention. The words “Inspiration of New Creation” stood out like blinking neon lights along a dark stretch of highway. It was the promise of the new creation that first motivated Daniel and me to untangle ourselves from the mad rush toward career and a home and prospective wealth. It was what prompted us to come to this humid little corner of the world... The new creation is what we look toward and what gives us hope in a world that is so dark and cracking and filthy. When I forget the promise of Christ’s return and the restoration of everything good, I can’t look past the things here that are dirty and worn. The stench of urine in the alley outside our door, the rats that wake us at night, the damp and polluted air pressing in upon us. Lately I’ve been so lost in the haze around me that I’ve missed the approaching sunset. This world will soon end. It is our privilege to prepare ourselves and others for the next.
Father, please give us the strength to persevere to the end. Keep us faithful and give us courage. Help me to treasure time in your Word and to fiercely protect my time in prayer. I have not done so lately, and I’ve missed it. I need to remind myself of your promises and let my heart be guided by you. Help me to do so faithfully..."
Five years later this is still my daily experience and still my prayer. When my expectation of God's faithfulness fades to shadow, the ugliness and meanness in the world around me become glaring. It is as if I am carrying only a pocket light. As long as I keep the feeble beam forward, I can walk by it. I am always tempted, though, to train the light on the skittering at my feet or a scratching on the ceiling. When I do, I stumble. I get lost and disoriented. Practically speaking, I get tired of the noise and pollution and poverty of the city. I grumble and complain and pity myself. I want to quit, to resign myself to an easier--or at least more comfortable--life.
When I once again remind myself of God's promises and reflect on all the ways he has been faithful to me, I begin to see my way forward. This is why reading the Bible and praying have become more to me than just rituals or obligations. Vietnamese coffee may claim to be a source of inspiration (and caffeine certainly doesn't hurt), but in the end I'm most inspired when I'm reminded of the coming new creation--a world where there is no suffering, no death, no evil or ugliness. The anticipation of all God has promised sets even today right. Reading God's Word and praying are the best ways to keep these promises before me. They give me much needed "Source Inspiration of New Creation."