I just bought a café mocha at Holly’s Coffee down the street from my apartment building. Though my regular is a caramel macchiato anywhere I go, I chose the café mocha tonight. Perhaps I wanted to go down a familiar road—one that certainly lead my head and heart back to my last year or two at Juniata.
Perhaps it was the café mocha, perhaps it is simply the knowledge that everyone is currently cramming and stressing out over due dates and requirements—what I know for certain is that I wish I was right back in that atmosphere again. Walking home along my noisy, dirty, night-lit city street, I actually placed my mind back to my beloved Juniata College campus. There was many a night when I would walk home from our tiny Jitters coffee shop armed with my café mocha in preparation for a long night of studying. It would usually be around 11pm when I would finish some activity like swing dancing, or some group project meeting, and I would have a whole evening’s worth of homework left to do before the next morning. My mind pictured the Juniata quad—beautiful, serene, and lightly lit by lanterns around the lawn. Sometimes, I’d even be barefooted, so I’d intentionally stay off the sidewalks in order to feel the cool, moist grass beneath my feet. Oh—I wouldn’t dare remove my shoes for my walk home tonight… but I suppose I can dream and remember those days when I lived in that tiny little world called Juniata…
Some of you may think I’m crazy right now for actually wanting to be back there—in the midst of Juniatians cramming for finals. Would you believe I even uttered the words to myself, “I wanna go back to school.”? I certainly did, and I certainly do. All in due time. For now, I reminisce.
I’m worlds away from what I once knew as home and family, yet I also know this world is actually quite small and it gets smaller day by day. Last week, a former Juniata history professor of mine (Prof. Doug Stiffler) was here in Seoul. We didn’t get a chance to meet, but he “facebook-friended” me and he was very interested in what living in Seoul is like for a Juniatian. I loved replying to his message, because I feel that my college did an excellent job in preparing me for making the most of my experiences abroad and growing the most out of it. In that respect, I’m sure he loved reading my reply. In a few weeks, another Juniatian will join our group of 5+ former Juniatians here in the Seoul metropolitan area. Perhaps part of the reason why I’m longing for Juniata once again is from these small reminders of my memories and friends from college.
I’m in a transition time again here in South Korea. Chronologically speaking, I am officially moving past my half-way point here. My weekly pattern is regular, somewhat predictable, and comfortable. Mondays through Fridays, I teach from 10am to 6pm. I come home, eat something, maybe go grocery shopping, watch tv, relax, and hang out online for the rest of the night. Sometimes, I study Korean and a bit of Spanish. Tuesday nights are different, because I have worship team practice for church on Sundays. Friday nights, I usually just want to relax, especially considering all my friends have later work schedules than me. Every other Saturday, I wake up at 8am to prepare for Global Generation, a volunteer English Bible-teaching program through my church. That’s over at noon, so I usually hang out with friends locally after that. Sometimes, I visit my brother in Ilsan on Saturdays. Sunday is my Korean lesson, then church, then dinner with church friends, to our favorite coffee shop, then back home to start all over again with Monday.
This regular thing is not good anymore. I will tell you why. Since I arrived here, a lot of stuff has been quite easy for me. My number one first goal: to find a church. Check that off the list after 2 weeks, since a co-worker of mine tagged me along to the English service at her 8,000 member church on my 2nd Sunday after arrival. I mentioned there that I like to sing, so presto chango, it didn’t take long for word to get around that I was joining the worship team (‘twas news to me). Membership on the worship team=instant Korean and foreigner friends. By the way, did I mention the fact that my older brother has been here for three years? He and his Korean fiancée were automatically an established support group as I entered this country. EVERYTHING was easy. Even getting here was easy. Nothing really came with difficulty or effort (except the Korean I choose to study every once in a while :().
For those of you who care, did you notice that there isn’t any mention of God or Jesus in, like, any of this entry? Take a look at my weekly schedule paragraph. Nada. Nothing. Sure, there’s ‘worship team this’ and ‘church’ that, but God is absent from my weekly schedule. Where has the passion gone? I am at a standstill. I am stagnant and comfortable, when I do not think about Jesus. Even if I remember Him, I pay attention for maybe two days, but then, it’s back to the grindstone without a care. My heart is changing. I am moving away from Him and not really caring about much. I mention to friends that I will pray for them, but all I do is stick their name up on my wall—to give the appearance that I’m actually fulfilling my promises. How did my heart become so lifeless and cold? I can’t fake it anymore.
I have chased after the wind. I have had my time of seeking knowledge, beauty, wealth, pride, and physical pleasure. Everything is meaningless. Everything leaves me empty. Everything reminds me that my heart is seeking more. And this thing that I am seeking is constantly seeking me out. Jesus. It is time for a change. It is time for a change in me that will begin with my heart and stem out from there. It is time for resurrection. I cannot ignore Him any longer. He has promised me—He has actually promised ME that He will never let me go. He will never give up on me. I constantly let go of Him. I have watched several people let go of Him, but more than it grieves my heart to watch them turn, it grieves His heart to watch His Creation turn away. This Man—this Jesus—is the only Person who has never left me. This Jesus is the One who simply whispered “My child” one night while I was wailing on my bed because of my parent’s divorce. I feared and I was alone. He spoke and comforted me. This Jesus is the only One who walks home from church with me on the shady, unlit back-street. I have joy and I sing to Him. This Jesus is MY Jesus, and my God’s a BIG God.
There will be change. There will be love. There will be spontaneity. There will be life and new growth once again. The branches will no longer be tossed away to be used as firewood, but they will be green and bear fruit once again. I am coming back. Switchfoot has a really lame song that probably never made it to their top 10 or whatever, but it’s always been one of my favorites of theirs, “24.” The song is about how the guy sees his life as he’s getting older…how regular and normal his life had become. I will not settle.
I wanna see miracles To see the world change Wrestled the angel for more than a name For more than a feeling For more than a cause I'm singing 'Spirit, take me up in arms with You'And You're raising the dead in me
God is God and I am not. There will be change.