So, before I get to the main theme of my thoughts right now, I need to share that this morning was one of those starts to the day where I remember exactly why I love Sundays.
I freely admit that I am one of those ever-so-slightly annoying ‘morning people’. On a weekday I get up before 5am and am (normally) joyously in the office by 7.30.
In contrast, a Sunday morning gives me the space to watch the sunrise, know I have some unhurried hours with the Lord ahead of me, and be confident that I can still make it to church with time to spare.
I woke up expectant (you know, when you wake up and you just know in your spirit that God really wants to spend time with you?) and my time with Holy Spirit was so sweet. I sat in His Presence for a couple of hours and was just overwhelmed with peace. Often I listen to music when I pray or read, but this morning, the silence of the world was precious to hearing the voice of God. It was one of those times where you can’t even really articulate your prayers, but You can just sense Him close, and whisper gentle tongues of love, and You just feel that rest. As I read the Word I just felt the sentences come alive.
I heard Him speak.
The Living Word.
Following that start (and here’s my real point), I studied Japanese today whilst streaming a sermon on the global mission and prayer movement. Honestly, for those of you who are language learners with a missional heart (and have a weird-multi-task-loving-brain like mine!) I completely recommend it.
I realised today that I’ve been learning Japanese for almost 10 months. That’s the daily-being-committed-to-fitting-it-into-my-schedule-and-trying-to-immerse-myself-in-every-way-possible learning Japanese for almost 10 months. And on this journey there have been the highs of feeling like everything is falling into mental place, the lows of suspecting that I’ll never, ever, ever truly understand the crazy complexity of what seems to be backwards grammar in my English brain, and the plateaus of steadily learning my way through thousands of kanji and apparently unending verb conjugations (I’m not even sure I entirely understood what a verb conjugation was 10 months ago!) When God started to speak to me at the start of 2012 about this crazy language journey, I never really imagined that it would move my heart, and change my life in the way that it has.
But it has.
My Japanese teacher advised me on day 1 to write my motivation for language learning somewhere big, bold, and obvious, so that I could revisit it easily whenever my motivation waned. Was I learning for business purposes? Nope. Was I learning for pleasure? Not really (although God had given me joy). Was I learning for study? Kind of.
He was full of warnings.
‘Lots of people start to learn a language’.
‘Few people continue it’.
‘Even fewer people embed it into their daily life’.
‘So write your motivation somewhere so that your resolve will not be shaken!’
It sounded a bit more like preparation for battle to be honest. (I think this was the point he also told me that I needed to ‘study’ for 5 hours a day, so maybe my memory might be slightly swayed…).
However, as an ever-obedient student-geek, in March 2012, I wrote it down:
I am learning Japanese because God has awakened me to. Because I want to love the children I see in my dreams; those who have been abused or sexually trafficked in Japan. I want to love through my actions, but also through my words. Because I want to see Holy Spirit break-out amongst one of the largest unreached people groups of the world. Because I long to be able to worship and preach naturally in another tongue as I live in real community, in real relationships. Because I will give my entire life to serve whatever people group Abba calls me to. And because the thought of seeing a culturally authentic Japanese prayer-room-movement stirs my heart in a way that puts me on my knees in intercession before the throne of God.
I’m not sure how that compared to business, pleasure or academic purposes, but I must say that I’ve revisited this in every low, every ‘why am I putting myself through this when the rest of life is so busy/hard/messy?’, and every late night kanji learning session (I have to plug wanikani.com as the greatest kanji learning tool by the way; just in case anyone is interested!)
And today, as I heard afresh, the call to mission, to the world, to those that the Lord loves, it was my greatest motivation to study. It just delighted my heart, and made every practice sentence, every new vocabulary, an act of real worship. Because I really, and truly, and completely believe, that Jesus wants a pure and beautiful and strong Japanese bride to stand among the nations of the world when He is declared as King of Kings. And He’s already bringing it about. His purposes are so steadfast. But it stirs my heart to partner with His.
There is such a fusion of the global prayer and mission movements across the world just now. I can’t not be excited about this season of making Jesus known; of increasing our faith; of seeing Him free captives, and heal communities, and transform families, and pour His love and His fire and His Spirit out across this globe in a way that prepares, and shakes and moves and ushers in His return. And this morning, I just said to the Lord again, ‘I will go anywhere. I will do whatever You ask. Because for love of You, I am stirred to prayer. For love of Your name, I am stirred to fast. For love of Your heart, I am stirred to action. In my love of You, I filled with the abundant overflow of love for others. I am Yours’.
As the lyrics of that great spontaneous worship song go, ‘I’m a mess, I’m a mess, I’m a mess right now. Don’t fix me up just lay me down. You fill me up to pour me out. I am undone.’
I am undone.
Wonderfully, beautifully, and completely undone.
And now I’m off to Bible College for the week to continue my geekish behaviour through my MTh. More essays, here I come 🙂