For all my whining and complaining (which I know are not Christian virtues, but I’m human) I recognize that it is a privilege and an honor to be here in Vietnam at this moment in time. Yes, it is undeniably true that there are numerous challenges and frustrations, on both a large and small scale. Physically, it’s uncomfortable most of the time, I get tired of eating rice or wading through shin deep water to get to my door when it’s raining, and try as I might, I still know only the basics of the language. But, there are moments that all those petty frustrations fade into the background and I’m suddenly hit with the grace that abounds in this reality.
Earlier this week, Richard Farrant’s “Call to Remembrance” served as a very much needed (figurative) slap upside the head. Even at Hesston, this song had a special pull on me. I remember clearly turning off the lights in the choir room one day, standing there with my eyes closed as I let this chorale arrangement of Psalm 25 bring things into much needed perspective. As our voices rose in harmonies that still make my breath catch in my chest, these words echo still: “Call to remembrance, O Lord, Thy tender mercies and Thy loving kindness, which hath been ever of old, O remember not the sins and offences of my youth: but according to Thy mercy think Thou on me, O Lord, for Thy goodness.” Too often, it’s so easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day realities that I face. In my humanity, I tend to dwell on the negative. I forget to remember that living and working in Vietnam is a gift and evidence of God’s loving-kindness. Being surrounded by the physical beauty of this place, looking up at the moon on an evening bike ride through the city, spending time in the presence of talented and gracious people who are trying to make the best of a limited and limiting context are all wonderful examples of just how present God is in this place.
I know there will come times, both in the near and far future, when I again forget these gifts of grace and glimpses of God. But right now, I feel the call to remembrance and am grateful.