Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Up on the Heights

by Ruth

Yesterday our team was looking over a passage in the Psalms that says,

“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, so I can go up on the heights.”

As we asked for insights into what we were reading, this was the sentence that stuck out to me. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. Rarely are we placed in the “perfect environment.” I guess really there isn’t even such a thing. So since we are living in an imperfect world, we have to undergo the necessary changes that allow us to function and even thrive in our environment.

Mountain goats are one of the few animals that can live in the heights because they are made for them. Sometimes we are transplanted out of our natural situation and put into a very different environment (say, moving to a weird, very different country on the other side of the world – just as a hypothetical example). And then perhaps we feel like big, clumsy donkeys trying to climb around on perilous cliffs.

Anyway, that’s how I feel sometimes. I think, “Am I really meant for this? This doesn’t seem like it’s me.” For one, I’m not a naturally adventurous person. I’ve always liked the idea of travel but find that the actual process seems more unpleasant each time I try it. And this life involves a lot of travel. I haven’t traveled in about two months and it already seems like eternity. I realized we spent a fourth of the year living out of suitcases, and that realization doesn’t excite me.

I am also such an introvert. When my students took personality tests last month, they all guessed that I was outgoing and talkative because that’s the role I often need to take on. We spend a lot of time around students – in the classroom, in office times, having them over to our apartment, doing activities together. I enjoy it most of the time, but sometimes (say when I’m spending hours with 20 people I don’t know), I get really tired of it. I find all the social stuff draining, yet it’s part of what we’re here for. Wouldn’t it be better if I loved to be around people all the time and just couldn’t get enough of it?

I stink at languages. Not just because I’m lazy and a bad student, though that’s certainly part of it. Languages don’t excite me; they make me want to crawl into a corner and hide. One huge obstacle between me and the possibility of staying in China long term is this prison camp called “Language School.” Dun-dun-dun! I’m glad I chose a country with one of the most difficult languages in the world.

Oh and let’s see. I like to have order and control. I like to know what is going on. I value aesthetics. I don't like lots of attention. I thrive under stability and routine. Which makes me wonder sometimes, “What in the world am I doing here?”

This is why the sentence caught my attention. It doesn’t say, “Good thing we’re deer so we can easily go up on the heights.” It’s says he makes our feet to be what they need to be. He doesn’t just leave us a donkey and give us a mountain climbing manual. He changes us to fit the situation. He makes us into who we need to be.

I like the way one version put it even better: “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.” Hey look at that! I love security! The mountain goats go up on the mountain because they can be safe from their predators. Even though they are standing on a dangerous ledge, they are secure.

I still don’t like the idea of living in a place where I don’t belong. But it is encouraging to know that hypothetically, if it were ever to happen that I was transplanted into a weird and different country, maybe I could be made into what I needed to be.


Nate and Molly said...

this verse has never made much sense to me but the way you explain it is very encouraging! Thanks for your sweet totally made my day yesterday. Will respond SOON! :)

Candy said...

Very profound, Ruthie! It is so good to know that "He makes us" and "He sets us" not we have to make ourselves into something. I guess it is like a lot of things -- the process is not easy, but the end product is worth it!

Clay said...

Ruth, I'm a lot like you....when I want to be alone, I remember that even our big brother got in the boat and went to the other side of the lake. Yes, there were many people waiting on the other side, but he did relax on the journey. Pam in Henan

Anonymous said...

Hi Ruth and Kevin! I just re-discovered you guys today. I saw one of Kevin's photos on CDT and that led me to Flickr and that led me here to the blog. I had no idea you were back in China! I just spent the better part of two hours plowing through your posts going back to August.

It was a lot of fun for me, a good read. I am still in Liuzhou, now at my second school but writing and taking more photographs than actually teaching.

I'll drop in often!

Kevin said...

Hi Michael,

I'm glad you've enjoyed catching up on how things are going here. We're enjoying it. I'm blanking on what CDT is exactly and what photo they would have used of mine, but I'm glad you've enjoyed reading what we're up to. I was browsing back over your blog after your visit. Wow, once again, some great photography.