There is so much to be thankful for toward our Father in heaven. I don’t know where to begin. All I know is that without Him, I would be aimless, lost, striving after all the wrong & selfish things. But I have to say thankfulness does not come naturally or easy. I wish I could say that knowing God’s command to be thankful is enough for us to have a thankful heart. Although seeing tragedy, sadness or sickness of others remind us of how blessed we are, such realization is usually short lived as we compare ourselves to others who are doing better or the busyness or bitterness of life makes us forget.
One of the best blessings of being here on the mission field is that God has been taking us on a special journey to relearn what it means to be thankful & why. I think true & lasting thankfulness comes only as a result of seeing God’s truth & power coming alive in our weakness & helplessness. Rationale for a thankful heart can be understood, but true thankfulness cannot be taught for it is a residual of only the divine touching our frail existence.
I could remember many years ago when I was a youth pastor praying for troubled teens. All I had to do was to place my hand on their shoulder as I pray. Often they would break down & cry out loud because they knew that they weren’t alone. That God was with them & that there’s a reason to persevere, hope, & rejoice. Over the past 10 months, I felt God’s hand upon my own shoulder in many occasions which helped me to rediscover gifts He has given to us all. It does not mean that things are easy.
I used to own 14 Bibles back in the U.S. I gave away all of them except 2. I brought my NIV 1984 version, which happens to be my favorite translation & the Message to Taiwan, and I have to say without God’s truth speaking to my heart, I would’ve certainly returned home. It is God’s truth that sustains & motivates me each day despite my imperfect progress. Starting from scratch at the age of 47 brought much ups & downs emotionally & spiritually. There are numerous ways to manage stress or pressures, but ultimately it is God’s truth which illuminates His sovereignty that brings peace to my heart. I am so grateful for the truths God continues to breathe into me.
Also after coming to Taiwan, relationships became more precious. I find myself being more attentive to people, being more empathetic. Although not all relationships here are pleasant, you still find yourself praying for each one knowing that we are all intertwined in the eyes of God. The relationships that we treasure the most here are with the local Taiwanese. For instance, there’s a couple who own our favorite lunch box place. For about 2-3 dollars (U.S.) you get a piece of meat, 3 vegetable sides & rice, and it’s delicious! But what we appreciate the most is their warmth and friendliness toward my family. It’s our prayer that we may share with them about the banquet that God is preparing for those who are in Christ. There is also a hair cutting place that Ethan and I have been going to. It costs only 3 dollars (U.S.) and it’s simple and quick. There are 2 ladies and one of them is quite rude & angry. We kept going there anyway. 2 Sundays ago, she & I finally had a decent conversation about where we are from. She explained that she is from the Southern part of Taiwan and that she’s been working/living in Taichung for about 3 years. Perhaps her not so pleasant attitude is a reflection of her hard life. I was reminded that it is for such people that God has brought us here, people that otherwise will never hear the gospel.
If I may share one more thing that I am grateful for it is the fact that God has been faithful in providing for our daily needs. Matthew 6:25-34 truly comes alive on the mission field. I have to admit that when I thought about our son’s college cost a few months ago, it brought much stress & worry, but God is faithful to His promises. He has taken care of Ethan’s first year school expense. When Jesus says, “Do not worry,” He really means it. Although we know that after June our support amount will go down about 40%, there’s a certain peace that surpasses all understanding for Christ is the One who is leading us on this journey. There’s nothing sweeter than the divine touching our frail humanity. For that we are forever grateful.
It is our undying prayer for you (and us too) that Christ will continue to leave traces of His grace in our lives.