I haven't blogged in almost TWO WEEKS!!
I'm SO sorry.
I am an unreliable, blogging failure of rather epic proportions…
BUT (and hear me out here…)
I have had two weeks of cramming the most possible and epic fun imaginable into my daily walking-working-eating life.
The reason for this excess of outings, meals, day trips, laughter, dancing, running, parties, volcanic-climbing-exhibitions, hotel-frequenting, late-night-chatting and cake-eating is that my friend Adele came to visit all the way from little ol' England.
So this is us…
And in true we've-been-friends-since-we-were-18 fashion… We went for extravagant fun… And wholeheartedly succeeded.
Over the weekend we took a bit of a roadtrip out of the city and stayed in this stunning hotel overlooking one of the lakes in Hokkaido's national park. One our first day there we relaxed. We used the onsen, we got massages, we ate food, we watched fireworks, we talked deep about God and life and all that jazz.
Something like this…
On Monday we walked 27 kilometres and climbed an active volcano.
As in, we actually climbed up past the steaming crators of a volcano to check out some serious natural beauty and breathe in the beauty of our Creator on it's lofty heights.
It was awesome. It was stunning.
I was pretty proud of us actually. Because we climbed this volcano without loss, injury or fall. We hiked. We tired. It was hard. But we finished unharmed and unscathed.
And so back at the base camp of the mountain, there were a few small shops and cafes. In the beautiful sun of a beautiful, we bought a large bottle of fresh Hokkaido milk that came with two small paper cups and sat down on a small picnic bench to enjoy our climbing reward.
Which is where things got really dangerous.
Because both me and Adele are a bit obsessed with taking pictures of our food and beverages and general life… And for some reason unbeknown-to-man, we had both decided to sit on the same side of the picnic bench.
So we lent back slightly, both of us, with our smartphone cameras at the ready to capture the moment…
And at exactly the same time had the realisation that our leaning back was not ending.
We seriously caught each other's eye with the exact same thought, 'We're going and there's no going back…'
We completely misbalanced the entire picnic table.
As in, we ended up legs in the air, picnic table of top of us, cameras and phones and belongings shrewn over the surrounding area…
… And milk flowing freely all over us.
It was sooooo funny. We were lying on the floor in a pool of milk, unable to move for the fits of laugher that had taken us over.
To make matters worse, there were a group of about 10 Chinese tourists standing nearby who joined in the laughter… And may I add, didn't for one moment stop to help! Haha. They just laughed.
A few minutes later another couple of their friends came out of a shop and saw us lying of the floor… They asked their friends what had happened…
At which point one guy walked right past us (still on the floor) to the neighbouring picnic bench… And re-enacted the entire episode for the amusement of his friends.
Which was even more funny.
Ok… Laugh. Get it out your system.
And let me get to where my thinking about this episode has landed.
You see, I think worship is sometimes like the toil and hard graft of climbing a volcano. It's the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice of the climb and believing Jesus will lead you out of the valley.
And sometimes worship is like the stunning mountain top view of clarity and revelation where you catch a glimpse of something of the wonder and beauty of a mighty God.
But yet sometimes, just sometimes, I think that worship is more like realising you're falling backwards of a bench that has milk on it.
There are 5 reasons.
1. Often worship involves a misbalance of the things we though were steady when we were focused on the world. As in, for the sake of God, we actually give ourselves to a life that is totally one-sided to His way. We really say, 'We're going and there's no going back for us.' When me and Adele were at the base camp of the volcano we read this story about a guy who wanted to research a new volcano that had opened up in the area. So he sold everything. Every single one of his possessions. He sold it all and used the money to buy the volcano. He bought it. How completely and utterly and totally crazy is that?! Who sells everything for a volcano?!? A volcano?! But it reminded me of Jesus. Telling that story about the treasure in the field being like Kingdom of heaven. The field that we sell everything to buy. The pearl of great price. The great unbalance of worship leading to the great freedom of worship.
2. Worship can be truly joyful. We can laugh in the Presence of a God who laughs, and we are safe to laugh with Him and experience true and deep and full joy. I have loved dancing with my friends this week. And singing with them. And telling God I love Him through the joy of praising Him. Even if I look stupid sometimes. Joy I can't really explain. Joy that rises up and makes me wants to sing. Or dance. Or just worship. Real, deep, joy. Undependant on circumstance. Thankful to the core. Joy.
3. Worship is frequently undignified. Sometimes the sacrifice of worship is actually the seriousness with which we look at ourselves. Like, it's ok to be serious about our holiness, but lighthearted in terms of how we actually see ourselves. I want to love Jesus with a reckless abandon that scatters my hardhearted pretentiousness. Me and Adele were talking about what douches we were when we were 18 years old. When we really loved Jesus, but yet were completely proud and pretentious in the walking out of it. And God has so kindly spent the journeys of our 20s undoing us in so many ways so that we can be clothed in His dignity instead of our own. Like being covered in milk and able to laugh about it.
4. Worship means we're not scared of our mess. Actually we run to God in our hot-mess and realise that even in our weakness, He loves us. So when I was lying on the floor, crushed by a giant bench and covered in milk, laughing with one of my best friends, I can't help that think God had a little chuckle to Himself. But more seriously, I think that the affirmation and certainty that I am completely and utterly known, forgiven and accepted by Jesus, even in this season where I'm weak and I fail at my attempts at holiness every single day, is the grounding with which all joy and peace rises us in my heart. Having friends I can talk about my mess with, going to God in my battles and my desire for all the wrong things and letting Him kindness wash over me and change me… It's stunningly beautiful.
5. Worship is contagious. Ok. Don't misunderstand me here… But I think that people who are completely abandoned to Jesus and living lives of worship… I think they're inspirational. To Christians and non-Christians. I'm so thankful to be doing life with some of the best. Running alongside the iron that sharpens me every day. The people that pray and fight and love and… Laugh. The people I do this journey with, whether we live in the same country or not. And always, people sold out for Jesus impact others. Even it means they are the joy bringers. Or the ones that people want to immitate. Or the ones people don't understand. Or the ones who get known as the crazy-milk-girls and probably become a Chinese internet phenomenon…
So, I'm super tired right now, but my heart is full enough to crazily burst.
And I love Jesus.
So, here's the great sacrificial milk picture. And a few more gems from the last week.