"Go with the flow," they said. I was apparently noticeably disturbed during our most recent team meeting, so that was the advice and comfort my team provided me. It's out last night of orientation and we are finally being sent to our respective sites for the majority of the summer. The moment of truth has arrived. The culmination of a whirlwind of preparation: mind, body, soul, and spirit, all prepared for duty.
That was the goal, at least. Personally, I feel anything but prepared. I am by no means implying that orientation has been insufficient or unuseful. On the contrary, it has expanded my horizons immensely since I first arrived here. However, my heart still seems full of worry, anxiety, and insecurity. Much of that is due to the results of our silent retreat the other day. The team dedicated a better part of a day to sit in silence, contemplating and reflecting over everything on the trek thus far. During this time, I sought the Bible and came across the book of James. Desperate for direction, I hoped this book would reveal to me how to take God's Word and live it tangibly.
James did not hold back. While reading and mulling over the Word, I was convicted in ways I was not prepared for. In particular, there is a passage in which he describes someone who merely listens to the Word and fails to do what it says. He likens it to a man who immediately forgets what he looks like after seeing his reflection in a mirror. I sympathize with that man. For a week now, I've piled in centuries of political injustice, decades of social science research, and quite a number of extensive lessons on Filipino culture and history. It has been an overwhelming journey, to say the least. My nightmare is arriving onsite and all of it immediately going out the window, everything I've learned, discussed and practiced. What if I show up at my host's front doorstep just as clueless as I was the moment I hopped on a plane from LAX (shoutout to Miley, heh)?
I have this knowledge in my head that I don't know what to do with. I have no idea how to approach the overthrowing of oppressive political regimes, or the eradication of global poverty. I'm a little man with little influence, trying to fight a war much bigger than myself. I would say that's a tad bit daunting, wouldn't you? This is what came of my encounter with James. I spiraled out of control, losing my sense of hope and confidence in the Lord. I didn't realize, however, that in the very beginning of James, he tells me, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."
The comfort I was seeking, the comfort the Lord knew I needed, was right there. In the very same book, in the very same chapter as the man in the mirror (shoutout to MJ). It made me realize that my lack of faith is what's crippling me, the greatest obstacle hindering my success this summer. Not a lack of ability, not a lack of preparedness. Yes, I am aware that I'm not going to fix an entire country overnight. I can't even fix my hair in the morning. But what I can do is trust in the Lord to give me His eyes, so that I may see this place and it's people the way He does. I can trust that He will "equip (me)with everything good for doing His will." (Heb 13:21) So here I am, Lord. Use me.
Isaiah is one of our 2019 Manila Global Urban Trek bloggers. He currently studies at the University of Washington.