You Must Rest

I fondly remember living in China. I love her people. Yet I clearly remember the overwhelming feeling of arriving in Shanghai on August 14, 2011—not for a vacation or a visit, but to live. Life turned upside down.

With only six weeks to pack, find a school in China for our youngest, help three other children prepare for college, say goodbye to family and friends, and undergo a knee surgery I had been avoiding, I arrived exhausted. Overwhelmingly exhausted and overwhelmed by foreignness: the sights, the sounds, the smells, the hubbub. It felt wild and utterly foreign. Without speaking or reading Mandarin, I heard only babble and saw only babble. Everything, and I mean everything, was strange: the language, the money, the food, the grocery stores, the government, the gods, the culture. Even the eating utensils were different!

This was foreign territory. And I was overwhelmed.

No one needs to move to China to enter foreign territory or to be overwhelmed (or super overwhelmed). I know many of you feel overwhelmed in some way. Being overwhelmed is part of the life experience. Jesus promised:

In this world you will have trouble, but take heart!I have overcome the world. - John 16:33

Whether cancer, job loss, financial difficulties, death of a loved one, relationship problems, divorce, depression, addiction, hurting children, COVID, or any of the daily trials we bump against, the sights, the sounds, the smells of life can feel wild. Strange. Foreign. Uncomfortable. Painful. Lonely. And overwhelming.

The first week in China, I shared my ongoing conversation with God with friends and family back home. The conversations went something like this:

Me: Lord?

God: Yes, dear one.

Me: This is overwhelming. I don’t like change, and I don’t like roller coasters. You know that I prefer merry-go-rounds… something peaceful and relaxing. Why this move? Why now?

God: I want to take you on an adventure. I have much for you to learn and I want you to trust Me.