「急がば回れ」 If You’re In A Hurry…. 09.22.10

Who’s not in a hurry these days? Quicker ways to pay your bills, better apps for your phone and computer, healthier fast food so you can have less guilt about eating on the run. One of the first proverbs I learned in Japanese language school was isogabamaware. The teacher tried example after example to help us understand what it means and how it is used. The closest I could figure out was “If you are in a hurry, go around” which seemed sort of nonsensical and mysterious.  I never used it.

This week, our church is leaving the apartment they’ve rented for 22 years and moving in with a Brazilian church down the road. This is counter-intuitive, counter-expectation. After renting for so long and working so hard, shouldn’t the next step be to buy (or have someone give us) our own land and building?

We like to think the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but it isn’t always so.  In Acts 16, Paul and comrades are on what we think of as his second missionary journey.  His purpose was to encourage and strengthen  groups of believers while preaching Jesus the Messiah in new areas. He comes to a proverbial fork in the road: After retracing his first journey’s outbound steps, where should he go next? No doubt Paul is thinking bigger and better, and tries to head left, towards the biggest city in Asia Minor at the time, Ephesus, but astonishingly, “the Holy Spirit told them not to go into the province of Asia at that time.” Apparently, he backs up and tries to go right, towards Bythinia, and some major cities on the coast there, “…but again, the Spirit of Jesus did not let them go.” What’s happening here? Two times in a very short space, Paul gets the doors closed on his good plans for God, and no reasons are given.

Paul obeys, though he perhaps mutters under his breath about why he must go on this long, seemingly pointless journey through sparsely populated, mountainous dry land, all the while bypassing promising new territories. At the harbor city of Troas, Paul finds out why in a dramatic vision. His destination on this leg of the journey isn’t a city in Asia at all; it’s a city in Europe. So he boards a ship, crosses, and eventually ends up in Philippi. However, there isn’t even a synagogue there in which to preach, so he and his comrades head out to the river and find a group of women. Not the most auspicious start to the European adventure- except one of them, Lydia, is totally ready to give her all for God, and practically begs them to baptize her and her household.

I can almost hear God, Paul, and Lydia laughing together.  Guess where Lydia is from?  Thyatira, a city in the Roman province of Asia, not far from Ephesus, where Paul didn’t get to go this time because he was supposed to meet her in Philippi, Europe instead. The shortest distance between two points isn’t always a straight line. If you are in a hurry, go around. Stick to following the Guide, even if the route doesn’t yet seem to make a lot of sense.

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Posted by Andrea Johnson under culture, History, Scripture.

2 Responses to “「急がば回れ」 If You’re In A Hurry…. ”

  1. Andy,
    I absolutely love your writing style. I can actually hear your voice when I read your writing. I love the message as well. In my spiritual practice the goal is non attachment to anything but this present moment, especially goals and outcomes. Your writing put this idea in a wonderful word picture.

    If you are in a hurry, go around.

    Julie

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    Posted by Julie on 12/13/09 September 22nd, 2010 at 7:03 AMReply

  2. I can’t hear your voice, as I’ve never actually met you, but I heartily agree! Please keep them coming as you are inspired (and inspiring).

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    Posted by Amy Cornell on 12/13/09 October 1st, 2010 at 2:21 PMReply

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