I’m back! Starting with a story about "Messages"

I had a delightful trip to China. Delightful in that work was productive, play was adventuresome and there were no incidents of barfing. Out of about 8 or so trips to Asia (China, Taiwan and Malaysia) this is only the 2nd time I’ve avoided getting sick during the trip. The consequence is apparently going to be a painful bout of jet-lag.

I plan to post a series of tales, with photos. My family received regular e-mails from me, telling of my adventures but without photos. My access to the internet during my stay was flaky at best – I was only occasionally able to access facebook or Twitter (and even then I randomly lost my connection).

I’m starting with a post that ties into the theme of a Blog Carnival, hosted by a friend. Then I’ll pick up from the beginning and tell the tales in ~chronological order.


As a preamble to this story I should explain an interesting traffic phenomenon of the Orient. There are some laws that are strictly followed and some are strictly disregarded. Very few drivers travel in excess of the posted limit. Very few drivers pay any attention to the stripes painted on the roads. This latter behavior is evident in the propensity to make 4 lanes out of 3, and to use oncoming lanes for passing. Or left turns. Really, just whatever is convenient. Since the roads are shared with bicycles, skooters and pedestrians, I’m always amazed that there are not very many accidents here – these guys are serious defensive drivers. But I digress.

I mention the disregard for lanes because this behavior came into play during one of my morning swims. The Swiss Hotel (actually the “Swissotel“) has a 3 lane pool with no lane dividers – just the 3 stripes on the pool bottom. When I arrived one morning to find a man in the first lane and another man in the 3rd lane, each of them swimming the breast stroke, I was not thrilled but I figured if I stuck to freestyle and backstroke I’d be okay.

About 15 minutes into my swim a 4th swimmer joined us. Although she was a petite little thing, she was also swimming breaststroke – apparently a local favorite. In true Asian fashion she simply joined us, forcing a 4th lane where there should be 3. After getting almost clipped by a kick from a passing swimmer, I gave up.

I was remorseful until I got to my room and realized I was off in calculating the timing of my morning routine! So, in the end I was delighted to have been “forced out” of the pool. I was only a few minutes late for breakfast.

Everything happens for a reason. More importantly, we should listen for messages in any given situation. There may not be a clear connection here, but that is in the fault of the storyteller. In the moment, I felt a clear message to wrap up my swim. When I came to appreciate the benefit of that message, I had no doubt but to assign credit to God for His gracious intervention. Had I continued swimming I would have undoubtedly inconvenienced others.

How often do we ignore the messages that are sent our way? It’s so easy in our busy, noisy lives to focus on the hustle and bustle and ignore the quiet whispers that might nudge us one way or another. One of the things I enjoyed about being disconnected for 2 weeks (in a part of the world where English was limited or non-existent), was the forced period of solitude and introspection. Even in a crowd, I was alone. I could speak, but I couldn’t make myself understood. I could hear, but I couldn’t understand. I was forced to listen with my whole self.

God, I pray that my heart remains uncalloused; that my eyes may see and my ears may hear as You guide me on Your path. No matter where I go, may I remain connected to You. (Matthew 13:1-23)