These Are the Days He is Building

19 01 2017

A beautiful day in my city of ShaoXing, China, overlooking the many canals.

Generally, I prefer to post pictures and let them speak for themselves. And I’m about to do just that–create a few posts with pictures from the blessings of this semester.

But just this once, I’m going to take a few extra lines to give credit to our Father who is my constant hope and strength, and who only tears down in order to build much stronger.

I thought about how to communicate my life this semester, and I figured that I could sum it up by telling you a little about our “rubbish street.” Generally, it’s a bustling place, where the students hang out after hours and eat what they describe as “delicious” food. But this semester, rubbish street changed. In face, it didn’t just change, it got torn down.

We first got wind of this when our favorite restaurants started clearing out their shops. One day, they were there, the next day, gone. This is the nature of China. Nothing is consistent; change is a given.

Next, the homes and restaurants were gutted and the city put up barriers so you couldn’t see what was happening. Then, demolition. It was a sad few weeks to walk past our favorite street and listen to the crash of concrete and see how our rubbish street had, indeed, become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


This woman is still selling street food, despite the destruction behind her.









But then, something else started to take place amidst the heaps of rock and steel. We started to find our old friends popping up in nearby locations. The other side of the street suddenly was occupied with life and new stores. And we were excited every time we were reacquired a friend or a food that we had been missing.

People often ask me: “How is China?” which is a bit of a daunting question. China is many things. I am many things. And when you bring two different things together, even more happens. Kind of like those science experiments you all did in high school, only this is life we’re talking about.

There is a time for everything, and sometimes God allows things to be torn down, even if it’s just the many obstacles we construct to make us think we are in control. I’ve actually come to appreciate the changes I see in China. I don’t always like the reasoning they destroy and tear down, and I almost never know what is going to happen in the future, but it’s also not in my control. It probably shouldn’t be.

Sometimes people in China say that they can “chi ku,” which means to “eat bitter.” If you never eat anything bitter–if you never experience changes and life circumstances that are out of your control–you never notice how new life keeps popping up on the other side of the street. You never get excited for the things that God again blesses you with, like unity, friends, a home, health, beauty, family, praise, love, etc.

This semester has personally been full of change for me. God has done some tearing down and some building up. We’ve gone on grand adventures, and we’ve shed a few tears. We’ve been unsure, but then we have prayed. Through it all, He has reminded us again and again that He is bigger and it’s okay when we don’t know the answers.

In the end, HE always constructs His houses (us) with a grand design in mind. In a few years, our quaint rubbish street will probably be a place to shop and drink tea and eat “delicious” food. I honestly don’t know. But I know that I always want to be ready for change. Change in the context of China might mean future uncertainty, but change in the context of Christ never just ends there–it means transformation.


“For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” -Hebrews 11:10