12 years ago, whilst living in Japan, I found God.
Or God found me, depending on how you look at it. In Japan?! – I know, right? Not exactly the centre of the Christian world.
Why Japan? Well, I have a few theories:
- Loneliness. My lack of community whilst living in Fukuoka. Suewan had joined an international church. I decided to go along once a month for the after-service food sharing, which was quite frankly delicious.
- Questions. There’s something about Japan, and the general pursuit of conformity there, that made me question the futility of it all. Why was I here? What was I doing so far away from home? What would it all mean if I died whilst living there?
- Freedom. Being out of your comfort zone, in a foreign land, gives you a freedom you can only recognise if you’ve experienced it. It allows you to see things differently. To resort to a cliché, it helps you broaden your horizons.
I wasn’t looking for God, and I certainly wasn’t interested in going to church or being “religious”. But nonetheless, with the help of an abandoned kitten (that’s another story), I found God despite all that.
Finding God when you are looking
Fast forward to now, and I’m being much more intentional. I’ll admit that part of the reason for going on this new adventure is because I’m hoping to recapture some of that freedom that first led me to God. My faith has become a fractured thing over the past few years, and I want to rediscover what it means to be a Christian.
The thinking goes something like this: “If I can escape the 9-5 existence that suffocates me in the ‘real’ world and get some head space by living a different agenda, I can reconnect with God in a new way.”
So far, so good. We’ve freed up a lot of time since coming to Valencia. We’ve joined an English speaking church (‘El Faro‘). It’s a good church – very different to the last one we were attending in Bristol.
I have to confess that it’s not yet working to plan. My good intentions to spend more time praying, exploring my faith and seeking answers to my questions of faith just aren’t happening. Instead, I choose to focus my time on work, family and relaxation. Not bad things in themselves, but it’s frustrating that I can so easily be distracted from one of the main reasons we’re doing this.
It seems finding God when you’re actually looking might be harder than finding God when you’re not looking.
As we’re travelling, this is a good analogy. Suewan bought a new iPhone after her last one was stolen (that’s another story) but for some reason the compass wasn’t working. If you know anything about Suewan’s navigational skills, you’ll know that she stands no chance if the little blue dot in Google Maps isn’t even pointing in the right direction.
For ages we didn’t know how to fix it. In the end, I did a hard reset on the iPhone, and then asked Siri to recalibrate the compass. It worked.
I need to recalibrate my spiritual compass.
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