I’m sitting on a park bench, smack-dab in the middle of a patchy plot of land set aside for a friendly playground and picnic pastimes. Come summer, this place will be crawling with families and restless city children who are done being cooped up in their fifth floor flat– I know the feeling.
But for now, it’s just me and the Lord. And I breathe. It’s Friday.
I finished studying and was in desperate desire to escape the four wall confinement I’ve been subjected to all day. As I made my wild dash down the crowded streets to freedom, I tried to pull myself together but the tears still came regardless; it was a tough week for Turkish. More so than last week. Right now, in my current state of emotional being, it appears to be getting harder instead of easier. Harder to stick to the books. Harder to swallow the fact that even after 3 months of strict language focus -studying day after day- I’m overwhelmed by how much I don’t know during real life conversation with my Turkish friends. Sick of having to constantly ask them “please, will you please speak slower?”
Pushing my brain to the limit, aching to find familiarity in this foreign clash of words. Wondering how on earth is this expectation of acquisition even possible?! Worried I’m not going to be fully engaged in ministry since I’m not at the level of language I need to be in order to be put to efficient use. Worried worried worried. What good am I if I’m not doing what I can here to do???
Something falls unto the top of my head, a crumb. I look around- who threw that? Another crumb lands on my shoulder- I look up. Perched on the branches above me, a couple crows happily chomp down on chunks of simit they stole from a nearby stand.
In that instant, precious words of Truth come to mind:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” …
and God whispers to my soul: Why worry? Who are you here for? Yourself? Your team? The refugees? You’re to worry not about accomplishments for man. All who you are and all that you do is for me. I alone see your heart. I see you slave away at language. I see your perseverance. I see your struggles. I know everything about you, therefore do not waste your time on worries. Focus on me. Have faith. I will help you succeed for my glory.
Here, now, in my Turkish studies, I can yet be living out a radical love for the Lord. Regardless the task, this is how I am to love: with resounding gratitude because He loved us first. My daily studying will no longer compose worry, but will be my act of worship. An overflow of my heart, naked to God’s eyes as He searches to and fro to find those faithful to His calling.
Before the sun fell below the horizon, I had the awakened opportunity to surrender my focus back to the One who gave me breath…. I captured this moment for all it was worth. This park bench. The message received. What’s left of the fading light streaming through bare branches. Sunset warming my face and my spirit. Because of His grace, the gift of today is sweeter than I can possibly know.