This has made it really hard to be back. Now that I'm mostly over jet lag, some part of me is expecting life to pick up and suddenly have the same level of intensity that the last month has had, with a clear sense of purpose and well-defined goals and end-results in mind, plus weekend trips to exotic places. But that's not going to happen... life happens in the day-to-day, in the mundane... it can't always be intense--I've burnt myself out that way before.
Even so, I've found myself depressed, although I suppose that's to be expected. My last month was indeed a great time, and I learned a lot, received lots of praise for my efforts and generosity while I was there, and made some new friends. Now suddenly I'm disconnected from all that and have to get reconnected back home.
Thankfully, God has provided some good counsel, in the form of my good friend Jason and of my parents. My parents have experienced this "re-entry" phenomenon before, and suggested that it was important for me to write about my experiences and specifically about what I've learned and how this last month might influence the future course of my life. Also, they suggested I set up a time and place to share more of the details about my trip for people who are interested... and that's something I can definitely do through my church.
In the meantime, God is reminding me of some of the anchors he's given me in the past. One of them is the dove. While I was in college I started noticing the call of the dove. It's always been a soothing and comforting sound to me, and it seemed like every time I walked out the door to go to class I'd hear that call. I started to associate that call with God constantly saying, "I love you", reflecting his unchanging love for me.
The other is The White Tree, symbolic of the life of the king and the royal line of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings. At some point while I was living in California this took on meaning for me in relation to my identity in Christ. Because of Christ's work on the cross, I have been adopted into God's family. I have been made a part of the royal family of God. I am a noble in his kingdom. I have full rights as a son, access to the resources of heaven. How awesome is that?
So how should I face the days ahead? How do I do the mundane, day-to-day when it seems like life ought to be far more exciting, esp. as a son of the King? Hasn't he designed me for greater things? Things just seem bleak now--great... I get to grow in maturity now... woohoo. I'm not particularly thrilled to wait x number of years to get to where I need to be for what's next.
But waking up or walking out the door in the midst of those thoughts recently, I heard the call of the dove, which I hadn't in quite a while. "I love you." Remember? This state you're in right now is pretty normal, don't worry. I'm here with you. You can enjoy work--you're good at what you do. You can connect with people here--I've given you a great community of people. Life won't be boring.
Even so, I've had trouble getting out of bed the last few mornings. What's the point? Can I really do this? I don't think I can. No, I can't handle this--get me out of here! I dragged myself through a couple days of work and then made it to the Indy House of Prayer last night. Receiving prayer there, God met me again and gave me a stern reminder.
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does" (Js. 1:22-25).
Remember who you are, who I've made you to be? You look into the perfect law that gives freedom, but then walk away and forget what you look like! It's true. The symbol of The White Tree meant enough for me to get it tattooed on my arm to remind me of who I am (along with a reference to Psalm 1--I will be like a tree planted by streams of water). I know the truth, I know the scriptures, but do I actually live accordingly? Often not.
So it seems I do I have something clear to work on, and there's no shortage of battles to fight here. The more I walk in my identity in Christ, the more I step out in faith according to the truth, the more I boldly speak it, the more I'll see God at work. No, life won't be boring. And there's no reason for me to think that God doesn't have exciting plans for me in the future. I can be praying even now that God will direct my paths and open and close doors. Maybe I'll be back in Turkey sooner than I think.