I recently completed a trip (to renew my visa) from Korea to Japan and back. Wow, that’s pretty easy to type. You see, I am not naturally gifted in traveling. Let me tell the story.
[Now that I am typing this out, I am remembering multiple other navigation-fail stories. One time in high-school, I ended up in a big van pulling a trailer down I-75 in Dallas . . . during 5:00pm traffic . . . The one to follow is the most paradigmatic.]
On my first day of kindergarten, before I went to school, my mom told me the number of the school bus I was to get on in order to come back home after school. She said that I needed to remember the number to get on the right bus and make it home. Kindergarten-Nathan immediately put the number from his mind. There were other things, more urgent, more relevant . . . I am sure of it.
The final bell rings and the school day is over. Everyone rushed out and congregates in front of the school. The school buses are all parked in a row and kids are streaming on to them. Kindergarten-Nathan immediately remembers that he was supposed to remember a number. This number would be the correct bus to get home. Kindergarten-Nathan did not remember this number. He immediately concludes that his only recourse,
is to hop on a random bus.
He did not ask another student for help. He did not consider asking any adult standing around for help. He did not deem it necessary to converse with a bus-driver or two to explain his problem. It did not come into Kindergarten-Nathan’s mind to ask his teacher. That’s what other, intelligent kids would do.
I have many good character qualities which when combined with willing ignorance and a pinch of laziness and pride explode into disastrous predicaments. I hopped on that bus with no clue. Not a clue in the world. I wasn’t praying to God for help, even. I wasn’t scared, wasn’t thinking it through, considering the consequences. I was just along for the ride. I eventually picked a random bus stop and started following a group of kids home and they, through rational discourse, determined that I was as lost as a calf at a new gate.
So when I was told that I would be on my own to fly from South Korea [a country really far away from my home but where I had at least lived for 3 months and could survive day-to-day] to Japan [a country even further away from home whose language and culture was wholly opaque to me], I had not two options, but three. Preachers often say we can choose to live in worry and anxiety or we can choose to rest in God. Too often I choose a third route: complacently put forth the most minimal effort and cross my fingers that I don’t die.
Thankfully, I chose, this time, to rest in God. This rest gave me a foundation of confidence from where I could seek advice and be vulnerable enough to ask for help. I did some of my own research and got expert input from multiple sources.
My trip to Japan was almost anti-climactic. The final leg of my trip was, you guessed it, catching a bus for the 1.5 hour trip back to my apartment from the Incheon international terminal. Now, the Lord often infuses my life with doses of recapitulation, but in this case He might as well have been floating there big and blue outside the terminal with a flashing, light-bulb-and-neon, Las-Vegas arrow-sign, Robin-Williams-Genie style, that read “REMEMBER THIS?”
I stepped out of the terminal and there were big buses (they call them airport limousines here in South Korea) lined up with different, 4-digit numbers on them relative to where in Seoul or South Korea they were headed. Everyone else – Korean, Indian, and otherwise – was cue-ing up / crowding around the bus they needed to take home. I was Kindergarten-Nathan once more. There was about 5 seconds of mental dialogue, “Oh no, I hadn’t thought this far ahead . . .” hurriedly walking bus-to-bus, looking around for the right number, before an off-duty Korean bus-driver spoke up to me in his broken English asking where I was headed. I told him, Migeum Station, and he pointed me in the right direction. Boring, right? My trip was totally uneventful. Except for the siphon brew for breakfast and the sushi to-go box for lunch. Uneventful, I say!
I have been on the Lord’s curriculum long enough to know that His provision is mandatory. When I preach a sermon in my own power, when I get done talking, I feel like I just ran a marathon. I am so worn out by that. When I preach a sermon, trusting God like a child, I feel refreshed afterwards. It was the same way on this trip. God has brought me so very far along, and so I can not wait to see where He takes me next.