Eight years!

Aylings in Exceed 33

Us (three) in our first home in Japan, 2010

I got a notification recently that reminded me that I started blogging 8 years ago!

Just out of curiosity, I went and had a look at my first ever blog post, just for nostalgia’s sake. It wasn’t bad, if I do say so myself!

It was good to be re-reminded of truths that I was reminded of at that time, when we were commissioned by the church to come to Japan – to do this work we are now doing and have been involved in, in one way or another, for the last 8 years.

Have you ever done that time capsule thing where you write a letter to your future self and have someone send it to you a few weeks or months later? Re-reading my first blog felt a bit like that. Reflecting on the sermon at our commissioning on Luke 10 (when the disciples come back from their short-term mission trip excited that they could cast out demons), there were some things which were good to hear again.

Like this, for example:

“when things are difficult and seemingly fruitless, as I’m sure they sometimes (often?) will be, I’m not to be disheartened. I can still rejoice that our names are written in heaven – what a thought! Likewise, when we’re seemingly ‘successful’, we’re not to rejoice in that but in the state of our relationship with God! Regardless of circumstance, we can and should always rejoice in God, that He has made us right with Him!”

At the moment, perhaps more than ever, I’m excited by seeing fruit. It is very small and we long for more, but it is very kind of God to show us something of what He is doing: one young lad baptised recently who got to know God initially through the ministry of fmZERO; a young lass also planning to get baptised this Easter as a result of the ministry of fmZERO; Christian students getting a little bit more motivated for evangelism; a number of non-Christian students starting to go to churches, a handful of non-Christian students showing real interest and doing evangelistic Bible studies.

But, whilst it is right and good to rejoice in those things, my deepest joy should come from knowing Christ. Does it, I wonder.

As well as joys, we also often know struggles. Living in Japan is hard work. Doing ministry anywhere in the world is hard work. Seeing so little fruit is discouraging. Battling with the sin in my own heart is demoralising. Sometimes it feels like 2 steps forward 3 steps back. Just the other day, I was sitting in a church prayer meeting and most of the prayer requests went straight over my head – I just couldn’t understand what was being said. Or going for a meal with some students and being the only one who wasn’t in on the joke – again.

But I’m not to be disheartened. My name is written in heaven! And that is a glory that far outweighs these struggles.

  • Pray that we may be people who rejoice in whatever circumstances that we know our Creator and that He knows us and loves us more than we could every dream!

Us (now six) on a recent boat journey in Japan, 2018

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