There is this one spot in the middle of our home where I can see every room in the apartment. By taking one step, I’m in the kitchen, or in the other direction, the bathroom and the kids’ rooms. By reaching into the nearest closet, I can touch the Christmas tree, winter boots, and paper towels. I can control the heat, watch TV, wash the dishes, and see every family member all simultaneously by standing in that one spot.
This is our space.
It’s different from what we were used to back in the states. We now live in a high-rise apartment block in the Tokyo Bay area with 11,000 other people on our corner of the island. This section is smaller than a quarter square mile.
There are six of us. We hear each other all the time. There is no space for private conversations. We sit on each other, breathe each other’s air, photo-bomb skype conversations. We see each other’s lives. We know each other’s thoughts. Ok, not really, but we have got to know each other much better.
The space we now live in was a surprise that we anticipated, but only got to know how much of a surprise after we had moved here two years ago.
We gave up our home in the states to follow the Lord calling us to a mission in Tokyo. In our mission here, we have come to love God, and we have come to love people. Considering our context, our mission does not require space. The lack of living space was a cross-cultural shock for sure, but the shock also came when I realized that space was not necessarily needed to love God or love people.
What we think we need in order accomplish what God has purposed for us to do can be a distraction. By loving people here, hospitality is required. Open lives, open homes, honest living, mess involved, sin exposed, redemption sort. Actually, the space we have aids our purpose well. More people in our space. Less place to hide. More life to share.
God has been gracious with giving us this space. In it He has held us up. He has allowed us to grow in sharing with one another – our lives, our food, our beds. Laughter, noise, tears, dreams, elbows. We have been watched by the world here, and prayed for by the people your side. We have seen God’s provision to help us balance a life of shared chaos, while maintaining peaceful hearts. As we experience more culture that crosses our expectations, or more expectations we have that crosses God’s purpose for us, we pray that God would grow us to love Him more and love people well.