I was twenty-years-old and spending my first summer in Asia. The sub-tropical heat forced me indoors, so I retreated to my third floor room to spend solitary time before the Word of God and a singular, rotary fan.
All summer, a certain long-distance relationship had remained forefront in my mind. He was tall, dark and extremely cute, with a sense of humor that often caught me off-guard. Despite our happenstance first encounter on an airplane, we’d exchanged numbers and I’d seen him several times before this summer missions adventure.
He too was spending his summer overseas, with an assignment similar to mine, albeit in another country. His aerograms were filled with joy and depth, stories and Scripture, affection and interest. I’d heard him pray in person and now as I read his prayers put to pen, they only increased the growing interest I felt for this extraordinary young man.
As I listened to the oscillatory hum that afternoon, memories of childhood flooded my mind. Since my thirteenth birthday, I’d been praying for a future mate. Beginning with a request that he could wash dishes (since my dad did not), my requirements had grown over the years. Now, I included elements of prayer, Scripture, and leadership with this guy perfectly fitting the bill.
“Give Me this relationship,” came God’s Voice, so clearly I could almost hear Him audibly. Startled, I diverted my eyes to the open Bible on my lap. God spoke again in print.
“Take now… (the one) whom you love…and offer him there as an….offering” (Genesis 22:2).
I balked at such a request. “Wasn’t this exactly what I’d prayed for? Wasn’t this a relationship that could please God fully?”
“Give Me this relationship,” came the Reply.
I don’t know how long I hesitated. Nor how long I argued. The thought occurred to me that maybe I could just offer this to Him and He would stay my hand at the last minute — just like He had in Abraham’s case. But this, He did not do. As He continued to lead me up this mountain, it became crystal clear He wanted me to lay down the relationship. Finally and completely.
In an anguish of soul I hadn’t experienced to date, my prayer reached the appointed plateau. As an act of my will, I placed this relationship before the Lord and felt it severed from my soul. Sobbing and exhausted with internal distress, I lay him before the Lord.
Then, in a radiance whose memory still causes my heart to pulse, I saw the Lord. With brilliance of Light and glow of Presence, He lifted me into His rest. Splendor so filled my heart that any lack of the previous moment vanished amidst His fulness. Like sinking into a warm whirlpool on a frigid day, my entire being was immersed in His bathing Light. Resplendent, nourishing, invigorating, strengthening, His Light absorbed every dark place, gleaming without glaring. Diamond-brilliant without blinding.
His Light was worth it all. His Grandiose Presence was far better than my granulated present. None else could compare. I gazed with wide-open spiritual eyes at His Remarkable Countenance, realizing that in the very glimpse of Glory I was being transformed. He was crystal, transparent, flawless, brilliant, incorruptible….yes, indescribable. I bowed awe-struck and speechless, and to this day remain unable to fully describe His glory.
What is your well-loved Isaac? What do you need to lay before Him?
He asks for your gift
in order to give Him room
to fill you to overflowing.
Praise You that You are Light and in You there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). You are not afraid of the dark and go boldly into darkness so that Your radiance shines there (John 1:5). As I stand in Your Light, I clearly see the dark places still residing within me (Psalm 36:9). Send out Your Light and Your Truth to lead me into further Light (Psalm 43:3). I want to focus on Your remarkable Countenance with wide-opened eyes, so as to be filled with Your Glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Enlighten the eyes of my heart to truly know You (Ephesians 1:18). In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I’ve lost things before. My keys, my rings, my purse. Once there was a span of fifteen minutes when I misplaced my preschoolers. It turns out they were hiding from me, with a stash of matches and some scratch paper, so maybe that one doesn’t count.
Losing the car was my fault, especially since I was the one who parked it. It wasn’t in an enormous lot where all of the vehicles fit together like false teeth on a partial denture. It wasn’t in an elevator-style Asian garage, although I’d used those before, complete with hydraulic pallets and those sliding/stacking systems that make you feel like you are in the Jetson’s family.
I had been driving in Taiwan since we arrived on island. In those early days, all you needed for authorization was an American driver’s license, a mandible check, a colorblind test and the ability to walk on your heels like a duck. (This is too good to make up). I’d passed the test with flying colors and a flawless waddle.
By way of excuse, if not of explanation, my car looked a lot like the other three-hundred fifty thousand vying for parking that Sunday. Regardless of whether you bought from Ford Lio Ho or Honda Taiwan, road film equalized most every ride into an anemic, ashen grey. And since this was before the day of dropping a locator pin or triggering a panic button, surely you can see how easy it is to misplace a ton of metal.
No? Well, let me explain. On this particular day, I’d driven around for about twenty minutes before finally discovering an open spot. I could read about one third of the Chinese characters around me but my directory senses were already scrambled as I wedged underneath the billboard advertising goat’s milk.
Mark, the girls and a Chinese friend were already at the diner ordering Kung Pao Chicken, Pineapple Shrimp, and Beef with Green Pepper. It was our favorite Szechuan place, a tiny hole-in-the wall, mom-and-pop-shop filled with fragrances of garlic, ginger and lightening-hot chilis. We frequented it often and knew the secrets of any nearby parking.
Just not that day. The nearby university was hosting an unnamed event and all of our usual spots had already been taken.
Within minutes of exiting my car, I realized the buildings around me were becoming less familiar rather than more. I peeked around a corner, took a turn, repeated both actions twice, then realized I was lost.
After several more minutes of digression, I decided to ask for directions for the McDonald’s near our restaurant. “Excuse me, Mai Dang Lau is where?” I queried, using the correct grammar in Mandarin.
The woman smiled, motioned for me to follow and turned to walk in a complete opposite direction. She snaked through several alleys and in about seven minutes, pointed to the golden arches. I was so relieved, I could have hugged her.
When I walked through the restaurant doors, Mark was obviously concerned, “Are you okay? We were getting worried.”
“Yes,” I sighed, “I just got a little turned around.”
As I picked around in their cold left-over’s, Mark asked the inevitable. “Where is the car?”
At that moment, I realized I had no answer. After a long pause, I gave as much information as I had: “It’s underneath a goat.”
We finally found the car — more as a result of desperate prayers than as a result of decisive memory. Granted, the next hour and a half were quite tense as the five of us gravely searched together. Thankfully, although I didn’t know exactly where the car was parked, I was able to start in the general direction and rely on Mark’s sense of orientation to ask the right questions.
Christian life is pretty much like that. Rarely are we as lost as we feel for the “Kingdom of God is in (our) midst” (Luke 17:21). As believers, the Word is near us, in our mouths and in our hearts (Romans 10:8). Our problem is simply a lack of faith, because we aren’t quite sure how to get there.
Find someone with a good sense of direction and take the first step. Moving toward truth always reveals more truth (Psalm 36:9). In time, what is hidden will eventually become clear anyway (Mark 4:22).
Christ is our way, so why not start by picking up the “Life Map” He offers? He came to “guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79). Moving toward the peace before you is always your best option.
I’m praying for you today. Your destination is out there even if it seems like finding it is taking forever to find it. “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go'” (Isaiah 48:17). Your part is to believe Him. Will you take that first step?