Jan 27, 7:01a, Shanghai
It’s 7:01 a.m. in China and I awake to the sound of fireworks, the same sound I heard faintly through my earplugs as I drifted off to sleep. If I was anywhere else, a war torn land, I’d be frightened, but I’m still safe and sound in the land of the Far East…
Welcome to Shanghai.
The people definitely take the week long Spring Festival seriously as they light fireworks at all hours of the day — not the weak sauce ones they let us do back home either. We’re talking legit, Disneyland worthy displays of color in the air. It’s been going on since I got here but I never saw it as spectacular as I did upon arrival in Shanghai.
So we got to take the bullet train in from Beijing yesterday… It was pretty amazing. Cruising from 0 to 300 kilometers per hour in just minutes was pretty cool. And the ride was so incredibly smooth. For lack of a better compaison, think of the Monorail but even smoother as it quickly glided down the track through the countryside south to Shanghai. It was like being rocked like a little baby off to sleep. so glad we got to experience that. What ordinarily would take upwards of 16 hours by standard train, the bullet train accomplished in just over 4.
Cool, huh? =)
After we spend sometime here and hopefully catching the beauty of the mountains of neighboring Hangzhou (read: Hahn-jo), our next stop planned stop is Hong Kong (HK). We had planned to take the sleeper train and thought it’d be a good idea to buy them before we left Shanghai Train Station. Only one little kink in the works: no train tickets… until next week. =/
We asked the ticket agent who spoke a good amount of English for the sleeper. Meiyou, she responds. What?! What do you mean there aren’t any? Not until February 2?!
Yes, we know…Spring Festival, everyone’s traveling in the entire country to be with their families for the week-long celebration. So booking your tickets a week in advance is prudent, but we didn’t really have that option, so we thought we’d try. Well, now for plan B.
As we walked away from the ticket counter to the Metro station, we were a little stymied. “Guess we fly,” was the conclusion. And as we were tempted to stress out about getting the plane tickets ASAP and having things all figured out, the Lord just quietly whispered to our hearts as we walked and prayed: “Stop. Breathe. I’ve got this. Let me take care of it.”
Fwump. The sound of another burden being released and cast on the Lord. What could have become as heavy as our backpacker’s packs became light as a feather as we entrusted ourselves and our plans to the Lord. Yes, we didn’t know exactly how we would be getting to HK, but we as we looked away from our own sensibilities and looked to the Lord, we knew that it was going to be okay.
Whew. That felt good to get out of the system. 😉
In that little turn of events, our conversation moved to what it means to find our plans frustrated but to trust that God is sovereign and in control. If we look at the circumstances of our lives, whether trying to get tickets to HK or paying the bills or getting over that painful relationship or anything, we can look away from ourselves and what we think is possible and look straight to Jesus who is all-powerful God, the Master of everything. The storms of this life, the waves, the oceans are all in His hands, as are the peaks of joy on the mountains of our lives and the valleys. Remember Psalm 23…
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Either His word is true or not true, friends. You have to make a decision…I have to make that choice too…to believe God and take Him at His word, which means I don’t have to worry when life doesn’t go my way or when even heart wrenching things that boggle my mind occur because God is Who He says He is, and we can trust Him and live by faith in His word.
And this ticket thing. Yet another reminder that we can, as the writer of Proverbs 3 says, trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on our own understanding. In all out ways acknowledge Him and He will make our paths straight (or direct our path as another translation of Scripture says). Again an opportunity to excercise this muscle of faith: Do I freak out because this is not in my control? Or so I trust the One who, as His word says, authors our days and knows exactly what we need and gives to is freely out of His goodness?
To underscore the point, we encountered the first homeless person I’ve seen since I’ve been in China. We passed her while making our way up the stairs to the metro at the station. Iraise, filled with the compassion of the Lord, turned back and gave what she had. I was moved to do the same. Just a few Yuan, nothing from our Western perspective, but how much God can do with our willingness to obey the voice of His Spirit, no matter how much or how little He asks?
As we continued walking up the stairs to our destination, it hit me: God took two girls all the way from southern California across this Chinese woman’s path to provide for her and the small child she was holding. THIS is our God. He cares for the orphan, the widows, the least of these. He cares about all of us. And as we’ve been adopted as His own and this faithful God promises to take care of us, how could we not think that He isn’t and will not continue to creatively provide for our needs as He orchestrates and directs and leads our steps by His Spirit.
Let that sink in.
He’s got your situation covered.
He’s going to provide for that matter that is weighing on your heart even now.
You don’t have to hope it’s true. It is true.
And if you’ve never taken the opportunity to lay down your way of doing things in favor of His own, believing as the author of Hebrews says that God is and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, then do it now. Then start walking this life of faith with Him, making that same choice to lay down everything for Him, trusting Him every day.
So today, we see Shanghai and we look for more of the gifts God is giving. I’m smiling just thinking about the good things He has in store.
A simple prayer continues to cross our lips: Lord, interrupt our plans in favor of Your holy, matchless ways. You are good, and I am so grateful. Amen.
I’m so glad He’s hearing. I’m so glad He’s moving. And I’m so thankful for His Divine interruptions.