Wednesday, April 5, 2006

I'm going back to the classroom ...

... but not quite yet. Yeah, that's right. It's looking as if I'm going to spend another year here in Turkey with our organization. I keep finding myself talking and thinking as if I'm going to be back, lobbying for where to live next year, thinking about how I'd like to go about things differently. Plus, my closest Turkish friend, "Henry", I think is going to become one of God's redeemed. ("Although, if you're Reformed, he already became one long ago," said my teammate Ted, chuckling.) We hang out a lot, have fun, and often talk about Jesus, Christianity, and this ridiculous thing called grace.

It's been difficult for me to go through a lot of conversations with students that seem to go nowhere at all or take surprising turns for the worse. For example, last week Paul and I began talking with a student sitting next to us in the warm spring sunshine. He immediately asked if we were Christians and had questions about the Christian source of goodness. We talked about how it results from knowing God and his love, and how we can only begin to be "good" when the blood of Jesus purifies us from our sins and his Spirit makes us new in heart. He really seemed engaged, only to say while leaving for class, "Well, if we are to meet again, it will be destiny." Then he just got up and left.

But I'm learning that the "progress of the gospel" (Php. 1:12) doesn't only consist in seeing people actually repent and believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. To Paul, this also consisted in others' knowledge that we are in our present circumstances for the sake of Christ, and when Christians testify boldly (Php. 1:13-14). Both of these come from the work of the gospel in the lives of believers.

Also, I see Turkey as a place where God is seeking to refine and renew me and bring me toward greater maturity (Col. 1:28; Jas. 1:2-4). I find this nearly impossible to believe, because the Holy Spirit has revealed more of my fallenness to me this year than ever before. But God has not forsaken me! And at a worship time at a local international fellowship this past weekend, I was reminded anew of his great fatherly love for his children and how much he desires to pour out the riches of his grace to heal and perfect us.

With Opening Day a few days ago--and I must say, the Tigers did a mighty fine job handling the Royals--it also sort of hit me that the things I love, baseball and, more importantly, cycling, are presently gone. It's weird to see how much I've traded those things to be here. My lack of available exercise here is going to make it difficult to "get back in the saddle" when I return home, and I can just plain forget about racing for several years. I loved the racing scene and effort and rigor of training. At least I've got VeloNews.

I do think a lot about going back to teaching, and I'm presently confident that I'll do so. Biology--especially ecology and environmental science--is just so cool! Plus I just sort of shake my head at comments like, "Isn't it weird how batteries are lighter after the stuff gets used up?" *(I actually heard this a few weeks ago.) But as this opportunity to spend another year in the Near East is open, I don't think I should miss it.

*No matter actually leaves a battery. It's totally sealed. What happens is that negatively-charged particles called electrons are transferred from one substance inside the battery (often a solid such as zinc) to another substance (usually a liquid such as sulfiric acid). This creates the flow of free electrons we know as electricity. Normally, the two substances are kept separate, but when you connect the two ends of a battery with some sort of conductor like metal, electrons can flow. Eventually, all of the free electrons from the zinc will be released and accumulate on the negative end of the battery, and the reaction stops. Then the battery is "dead".

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