It's been a full, random and crazy few days. The girls go home on Friday and so we've been making the most of our time in the best possible ways.
Monday was the zoo.
Tuesday was the night view from Mount Moiwa.
And yesterday… Was… Random. Joyfully random.
We spent the day in Otaru, which is one of my favourite little towns near Sapporo. That was a little bit random. Especially the ride around Otaru on a rickshaw, with possibly the BEST rickshaw cyclist in the entire world. Then I was teaching a few classes. Which were hilarious in the best possible ways. And then we met some friends of mine for dinner. Actually, we went for dinner with one friend of mine, and the most random selection of other people. It was an unexpected evening, which led to some great conversations about life and faith and testimony, some entertaining karaoke singing and some dancing that I will never forget.
I have too many photos to possibly upload in one blog from these adventures, so I'll put a sample up at the end of this post.
But my point for this blog takes us back to the rickshaw driver.
He's pretty awesome. And if you're ever in Otaru I truly recommend seeking him out.
Because he doesn't just pull you round on a rickshaw (demonstrating exeptional almost superman like strength).
He banters with you in a hilarious mix of Japanese and occasional English. He takes you to all his favourite shops and gets you free samples of chocolate, tea, juice, squid and everything else you can possibly sample. He takes you on the main road, in a rickshaw, with the rest of the traffic flying past you at 60 miles per hour. He takes corners so swiftly it feels like you're riding a rollercoaster. And he does it all with the most confident smile on his face, and the most raucous laughter erupting from his mouth.
This guy… Totally made our day.
You see the thing is, I've been in rickshaws before. With drivers (what do you call the man who pulls you?!) who don't chat. Who remain silently focused on the road in front of them, but yet don't really seem to enjoy the journey. With drivers who show that pulling you along is causing them a lot of effort. With drivers who never stop to take in the secret shops and sights of the journey. With drivers who get you where you need to be, but don't enjoy your company on the journey.
And the contrast in those experiences is a challenge to me about how I do this journey called life.
Because sometimes it gets so serious. Because sometimes life is hard. Sometimes it feels like pulling a rickshaw with three people in it up the steepest hill possible. Sometimes it's flipping tough.
And the temptation is to quiet down and peddle, eyes fixed on the road ahead, heart unengaged from the people I'm journeying with. Heart-guarded survival mode on, community mode off.
But my rickshaw-pulling friend yesterday was a challenge to me.
I think we need to be real with God and real with people, deeply and brutally real. But also… I think God intends for us to enjoy the journey.
The process is hard sometimes, but that does not mean it is devoid of joy.
Actually, despite the process being hard it is overwhelming joy-FULL.
And that's the paradox of faith.
That in all our troubles our joy knows no bounds.
Because it doesn't come from within me. It isn't something I muster up from my own mind or heart or strength.
It's something that is a gift from the Holy Spirit and the very grace of God displayed in my heart.
That I can cycle the rickshaw of life fully engaged in loving others and journeying with others and doing it all with a confident smile on my face and the most raucous laughter erupting from my mouth. Because it's not that I have a confidence in my own ability or a joy in my own achievements. It's that it's rooted and grounded in the One who will never fail and never sleep and never slip.
So thank you rickshaw-pulling friend, for reminding me of the joyful journey laid before me. And thank you Jesus. For everything.