For those wondering, I've been back to "normal" life over the past four months in both KL (Malaysia) and Melbourne (Australia). The "real" world, as opposed to the suspended reality that one finds oneself in on short-term mission trips (as in one-week church camps or two-month vacation hiatus), has this inbuilt ability to suck one into its vortex of the daily grind of work, the obligatory time with family and friends, attempts at planning for the long-term future, and so on.
Not to discount their importance, but it does beg the question - what is, or what should be, one's centre in our ephemeral "threescore years and ten" (Psalm 90:10, aka seventy years)? Which is the element that grounds you and brings you back every time you are at a loss? Do I embark on my travels around the globe to escape this rat race, or do I go back to climbing the social and corporate ladders to escape the starkness of economic inequality and human right abuses that plague the majority world? Can I have both? Should I want either?
In any case, I found it interesting to contrast the following two songs, both of which I'm rather fond (although for quite different reasons):-
Need You Now (How Many Times) - Plumb
How many times have You heard me cry out
'God, please take this'
How many times have You given me strength
To just keep breathing
Oh, I need You
God, I need You now!
Standing on a road I didn't plan
Wondering how I got to where I am
I'm trying to hear that still, small voice
I'm trying to hear above the noise
Oh I walk, oh I walk through the shadows
And I, I was so afraid
Please stay, please stay right beside me
With every single step I take
(Listen here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ylnx0NA9X4)
I Wouldn't Need You - Norah Jones
If I touched myself the way you touched me
If I could hold myself the way you held me
Then I wouldn't need you
I wouldn't need you
No, I wouldn't need you
To love me
If I could replace the things you gave me
If I could see my face without the tragedy
But I do
So come back, come back!
The first song is by the prodigously talented Tiffany Arbuckle Lee and apparently elaborates on her struggle with anxiety and panic attacks whereas the second song is by Norah Jones - who I believe hardly requires introduction - and is obviously about a (possibly dysfunctional) relationship between a couple. I guess what struck me the most is how even though both songs are from the point of view of the singer desperately needing that 'Other' (be it divine or human), the underlying reasons couldn't be more different. The former deals with a need that is primitive in its life-and-death context (whether that entails a physical, mental or spiritual threat) while the latter could be said to be self-centred in its focus on the benefits that the lover brings and how this relationship could become superfluous if only these benefits could be divorced from its giver.
Do we need God in the first or second sense? If I could have all the blessings that He showers us with day in day out, would I still want Him?
Jeremiah 2:9,11-13 "Therefore I will bring charges against you," says the Lord, "...Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate," says the Lord. "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water."