As I recall the events of the past few years, it seems as if I’m gazing through a window. Sometimes I want to return to those days – to the study and laughter and deep conversations, to the bamboo shower heads and boat rides and bath and laundry in the river. I remember the evening we cleaned up after a student-planned birthday celebration and we started flinging at each other leftover noodles that were beginning to spoil in the tropical heat. I remember the moment we explained to our students that the intriguing star phenomenon they were observing was an airplane transporting travelers through the night sky to some distant land. I remember when we became human bulldozers, plowing new channels in the bottom of the river so we could continue driving our boat in dry season. I remember the night I hiked alone through the jungle in a rainstorm, and God literally unlocked a gate so I could return to my friends’ home and a dry place to sleep. I remember climbing up waterfalls with two precious Buddhist young ladies and their friends, our hearts bound together despite language limitations; it almost seems ironic that both of those young ladies now live in the U.S. We’ve almost traded countries – they to chase the American Mirage, and I to answer God’s call to spread the gospel and claim my eternal inheritance. I still pray they will be part of that inheritance.
Other times I don’t enjoy remembering so much – the missed opportunities and failures to overcome temptations or patiently bear trials. Sometimes I want to go back to those days, too – and live them again, differently than before.
But all the wishing in the world won’t take us back. God gave us a window of opportunity, a few short months to work for Him. Now we have little opportunity to communicate with our students and friends from last year. In fact, we may never see most of them again on earth. How did we use the days God gave us with them? Did we allow Jesus to live through us so our students could see His character shining from all we did, or did we allow self to control us and mar their picture of Him? Did we recognize our selfishness and conquer it through His power? Every person we met was influenced for eternity, either for good or bad. Some have made decisions, on both sides. But while my heart yearns over our prodigals, it rejoices in the words of others: “I saw something different here.” And that ‘something’ is still altering the course of a Buddhist young man’s life.
Now God has given us a new window of opportunity. How will we live this time? We never can know how long each opportunity will last – years, months, a few days or hours, or a mere moment in time – and that opportunity may be when each person we meet makes his or her final decision for eternity. We never know when an unexpected event or circumstances beyond our control will suddenly shift our window of opportunity to a window which we can only look through in our memory. I choose to live in this window surrendered to Him, so that in eternity I will be able to look back and rejoice in what He has done – with no regrets. How about you?
Our jungle home beside the river…it’s hard to believe we moved from there over a year ago already.