Before you read this post, make sure you’ve read the previous! It’s a continuation of my thoughts from my vacation.
I wrote in my head while riding the Chuo-Sobu line into Tokyo from Mitaka and listening to “Breaking Out” by the Protomen (google it). What a rush. I wrote it on paper on a train to Yokohama after transferring. For me, poetry is well… often not very poetic. At least, this one isn’t.
“Chuo-Sobu line, the next station is Nishi Ogikubo.” A hundred men in business suits ride this train, plus some women and about a thousand hanging posters. But they are lost, every one, save for a little lady sitting in the priority seat, and she would deny it. They are lost and doomed, doomed for ーつぎは、おぎくぼ*ー for Hell. The eternal fires where there will be no escape. And Satan would have them think of anything, anything except their eternal souls and the salvation that could be theirs. Alcohol, cell phones, bottled tea, endless droning television (even here, on the Chuo-Sobu line, bound for Shinjuku and Tokyo stations), but most of all the noise, the constant noise of Japan: ads in English and Japanese on every wall, keitai mail, manga, commercials blaring soundlessly from the monitors overhead. I hear the endless clank, clank, clank of the tracks, then BOOM, a train passes inches from my ear on the opposite track. But the hanging posters are far louder.
“Anything, anything save Christ. Take money, food, Sapporo beer, seek love anywhere you please (so long as it doesn’t become public), but don’t think about – 「次は新宿です。ありがとうございます。」*** Be busy! Be so busy that you can go to bed every night without thought or wonder. Clank, clank, clank. You’ll be happy – ‘This is Shinjuku. Please change here for the Yamanote line, the Shonan-Shinjuku line, the Chuo local service…’ – keep listening to that woman speak. Go ahead, change. Be good people, give to the poor, be polite. Change in any way you please: Tenrikyou, Sokka Gakkai, classic Buddhism in a dozen forms, or plain old superstition. I would love you to be a good person, so long as you do not think about my foe, as long as you never meet one of his followers, and if you do, they are just as engrossed with their keitai** as you are with yours. Become pious, as long as it is not pious for Him.”
Whoosh, the doors open with a blast of cold air, and a hundred men in business suits exit, while a hundred more step onto this train, しゅうてん**** hell.
On Sunday, I visited a church of surpassing caliber. I have never seen its like in Japan. I spent the entire day with them, and though they live in the busiest city in the world, they took in a full-time work day of fellowship. It shone like a column of light, reaching to the heavens in this sin-stained city. The church can never die, and so there is hope for Japan.
*The next stop is Ogikubo
**Keitai – cell phone
*** The next stop is Shinjuku. Thank you very much!
**** Shuuten: Final stop (at the shuuten, everyone gets off the train).
What I learned from talking to another MUP missionary in Yokohama station:
Whenever you see someone with something, they obviously care about it, so it can be a key to a relationship with them. i.e. if someone is walking a dog, they obviously like the dog, same if you see them tending a garden. Use that to form a relationship with them.
Feb. 7, Saturday, West of Yokohama (Ninomiya)
Tonight, at this home group, I was tired and barely interracted with anyone. They are even still here, and I’m not interracting with them. I formed some good relationships in Tokyo, but here on the tail end of my trip, I’m tired and just can’t stand forming any more quick relationships that could be great – if we knew each other for more than a day. Oh, if only things were different and we could truly get to know one another! If only… God forgive me for cursing so much the lot You have given me.
It’s hard not wanting to go back to Kagawa. But I will. Through God’s strength I will. It’s not as bad as I feel right now.
My deliverer is coming. My deliverer is standing by. A slightly overblown song I heard today here, but so true. The fact of the matter is, because God is a being who intervenes in the natural world, I can have hope. I just wish that more people in Kagawa believed and would remind me of that. And I long to speak to those back home.
Oh God, help me to adjust and make it long term here in Japan. A good friend or a wife would help tremendously in that. Some of the local missionaries have already, but I need a peer. Oh how needs can go unmet, which drives us to You. I don’t know how long I can last without a resonating soul.
“As long as I have ordained you shall.”
That’s always Your answer. Help me to persevere!
He has delivered me half a dozen, significant times already since coming here, and He will continue to deliver me. I need a new miracle of hope every month, lest I perish.
I want to become a capable vessal in this land. To learn this language. Learn this culture. Learn how to minister here. Learn how to love God better and serve for the sake of the Name. Learn, learn, learn, and then go out and be used, all while learning more, growing more, loving God more, worshipping more. I have been a lousy missionary in so many ways, and I can’t wait for the Spirit’s changing work to be farther along. Oh God, wash me in a shower of your grace and clean all this filth and sin away. I am so sick of it. I want to be clean, want to be better, but half the time I try, it just seems like I’m trying to buy grace, which is twice as bad. Help me to come to you with a humble heart, and not false humility, true.
God, I wanna be happy. Part of me feels guilty for that, despite all the John Piper I’ve read, because to me, that happiness seems focused on human relationships, like SLO. Maybe too much, good as those are.
But I feel like I can’t find that happiness here, and if I go back to CA, even SLO, I will be dissappointed with that choice for perhaps the rest of my life. I will know from the moment of retreat that I ran out of selfishness and chose the second-best, that I failed to obey the purpose of my life, “That I may know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings…” (Phil. 3:10-11) And in comfort, in fellowship, even in marriage, for many years, I will live in regret, either mild or severe, that I did not choose the warrior’s road.
So, if I want happiness, it is to be found here – 日本(Japan). Unless God gives me a radical change, if I want happiness, true happiness, it must be found here, on His road, the road of the cross, in Japan. As I look to return to the island where darkness reigns, I must remember that. And I must pursue true しあわせ （joy)、IN GOD. I cannot live and not pursue happiness. I cannot. ‘Tis foolish.
But I must pursue happiness with all my might – working hard, going to あ治(Aji), embarrassing myself, being a naked, dancing clown. In all these things, I pursue my happiness. Whole-heartedly. Through difficulty. Throughさびしさ(lonliness). Through unbearable, blinding, hell-echoing pain. That is how I pursue my happiness. In eternity and on this earth. A happiness I do not yet see, cannot yet taste, cannot even see the possibility of coming into existance, that happiness. That happiness do I pursue, and it will surpass all other joys, all imaginable self-bought happiness, for it shall come from the hand of God himself.
The power of the resurrection.
Obtained through the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings.
And it shall be a powerful witness to this world, for at this time I prophesy that it shall be (not my words, but those of scripture), so that when it comes, I can point to this very page and say, “See, it has come true!”
For now, I do not see it, and I do not know how these dreams could ever come to reality, but my deliverer is riding on the clouds of Heaven to my rescue, and His power that stretched the cosmos across the endless nothing of space and set every star ablaze with unquenchable fire, His power backs His Word, and I shall yet taste the unbreakable promises coming to fruition. God, help me, and let me see your provision.
And when all is said and done, a thousand souls will follow me into Heaven. Like a duck in flight, successful ministry is not something you can hit by aiming at it – aim for God, ad he content in Him, and all the world will follow the church into Heaven. There is my ministry strategy: “Abide in me, and you will bear much fruit.” (John 15)
God, make it so! Amen, amen, and amen.
In this journal entry, some of the promises I refered to are those like Mark 10:29-30… “’I tell you the truth,’ Jesus replied. ‘No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.’”
I do not for a moment believe in health and wealth teaching, that I am earning earthly riches for myself here in Japan. I don’t think those are the “fields” that Jesus talks about here. However, look at how He promises rewards in this present age as well as the age to come. I believe this is chiefly knowing Him more in this age (hence my theme verse of Phil. 3:10-11 that I may know Him more and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings), along with other blessings like the family of Christ to take the place of those we say good-bye to. A big reason why I don’t think this passage translates to worldly riches is because with this great reward comes persecutions! More joy, more suffering, God by our sides forever.
After leaving Jesus Community Chapel, my heart breaks. This trip is over – only the return journey remains. Not returning to 香川(Kagawa) would do unbearable damage, but the dread of returning is heavy upon me, mixed with the pain of leaving. 帰りたくない。帰りたくない。I don’t want to go back. But I must – it is the road before me, and God will be with me in it, despite that no one will be there to greet me. But if I walk this road, He will be with me. He will be.
9:40 PM One more time, on a night bus…
A few more so-called poems, if they can such be named:
The immense suffering of all the saints
The immense suffering of all the saints:
I hear their voices now.
Mine is among them.
Injustice in this world, injustice.
We all cry out in our misery the simplest prayer: “Deliver.”
Some cry it with joy.
Some cry it with grumbling.
Some cry it along with the second prayer, “Thank you.”
But we all cry it.
There are no exceptions – save fools.
We cry it, for the kingdom is not yet full.
And sin is strong.
So, we cry, “Deliver.”
Oh God, deliver.
I am changed again.
Suffering has done its work,
Followed by its more dangerous partner: beauty.
And now, with a prayer from my friend whose name is forgotten,
With that prayer, the only buttress that gave me strength to leave,
The only thing that held back my tears,
Not wanting it, I left.
Crying, “Anywhere, anywhere but there,” I left.
If anything would cause surrender of this quest,
this destiny of mine,
it would be those that I have left behind.
They called it a revolving door.
The imagery was wrong.
More like a scatter-bomb,
a new one every day.
Pain and beauty have done their work, and so I write. I write anew. I’m reading The Heavenly Man, about Brother Yun, a Chinese house church leader and the Chinese house church movement, and I just read about the point in his life where, like Hudson Taylor and his spiritual secret, Brother Yun discovered that God really would watch over him in all things and that he needed not worry at all. That no matter what, God would deliver him.
Oh, that I too would understand that. Even in bitter loneliness, that I would understand that…
That night on the bus, I slept very little and read most of that book, The Heavenly Man. It truly impacted me, and I highly recommend it. I’ve always wanted to have an all-night prayer vigil, like Jesus so often did, and that bus was a great opportunity for that sort of thing (lots of reading and praying). Since I can’t sleep on night busses, I tried reading and praying instead, which made it a good trip back to Kagawa. When I returned, after all this, I felt very encouraged for having struggled through all this.
Well, for a few days, at least…