A year and a half ago I took a five week long trip to Hong Kong that I almost never really think about anymore.
Sure, it crosses my mind now and then, but I think about how tired I was; not about the late nights chatting on the balcony. I'll think about the ferry ride, not about the performance we did near the star ferry right before it rained on us. (It rained during the last song, I think) I'll think about a song we sang there, not about the feeling of God moving among us as we worshiped. I'll think about the times I doubted, not about the times in prayer when God whispered to my heart.
Do you see what I'm saying? I think about the trip, but only when something reminds me about it, and I don't take the time to remember the most important parts.
I'll think about the fire God placed in my heart, and wonder when it died.
Incomplete, failed... those two words often taunt me. I have a tendency to not finish things. So a lot of the time when I try to think of the good from the trip, instead I think of the hopes and dreams I had upon coming home, and I think of the past year and a half, and think how I'm not in any form of outreach, I'm not learning more about the japanese culture, and I haven't been on fire for God.
So I lost everything I learned during the trip, didn't I? I failed to carry out my end, right?
Maybe, but I've been starting to see a greater arch in this story than I once thought. I don't really know what happened to first few months after I got back. I know there were good times, and I know there were bad. Mostly I know how March through November went, know that I didn't look to God much during that time.
Yes, that sounds like I just listed that I can label Hong Kong's work in my heart, and then the months I mentioned, as being more incomplete days, as being failures. If I only stepped back, then what's the purpose?
The point is I still lived those days, I still have those experiences, and even though I fell I kept standing back up.
I may not think about Hong Kong much, but the lessons I learned still stick with me. I still make myself pause when I find I'm comparing myself to others again. I still remember that I have to be careful how independent I am, that it's okay to ask for help. I still remember that there are groups I can feel at home with, and people who can stick together through thick and thin. And I still remember the pure joy of worshiping God with the rain pouring down around us.
Hong Kong did leave its mark on me, just not the one I'd expected. I thought I'd catapult into action, instead I had to wait.
The past while taught me things too. It taught me that dawn creeps in slowly, often unnoticed. It taught me that action isn't everything. It taught me the breath is precious. It taught me to hold on to God and any glimmer I see of him with all that I am. It taught me that Love doesn't care what condition we think we're in, it sees more than we ever will.
I think this is all pretty incoherent, but I guess it's simply this. I don't think about Hong Kong very often, and I'm often tempted to think that I've lost anything I learned from then. I haven't. I look back at the last year and feel like I've gone nowhere. I haven't. I may not see everything, but I can see enough to know that no second ends up completely wasted.
The shadow proves the sunlight... but the sun is most brilliant when mixed with clouds.