05 Aug

This Sunday, back at my church in Texas (Revolution Church), we sang a song that has always moved me, but the timing of this particular song was significant.

When we first moved to China just over two years ago, I knew that things weren’t always going to be easy, but I wasn’t entirely prepared for just how difficult things were going to be for us. As we felt isolated, discouraged, and completely overwhelmed, this song carried me through in many ways. We’d sing this song at our fellowship, both during the service and afterwards, with Stan and Zach playing guitar and our voices singing out from the heart. This song was an anchor for my soul.

The guys playing at fellowship

The guys playing at fellowship

Fast forward to this past Sunday in church. Even though we’ve been back in the States for over a month now, it still feels somewhat strange. We fell back into our routines so easily and seamlessly that it almost seems like we were never really in China… like somehow the last two years of our lives were a dream. And I was feeling kind of guilty about that. China was so life-changing in many ways and, even though it was hard, I would do it all over again if we had to. We were stretched, changed, and grown in ways that maybe wouldn’t have ever happened if we had stayed here in Cibolo, in our own little comfort zones, in the practiced routines of daily life.

As the song played, I let my tears flow. I was struck so powerfully by God’s faithfulness. I was struck by how much he’s blessed us and how lucky we were to have been in China, surrounded by people who loved us, helped us, and came to be our “family.” In that moment, my heart ached for them. But I felt God wrap his arms around me as I sang with the depths of my heart…

“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would lead me… Take me deeper than my heart could ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior…”

I was brought back to my classroom that first year, sitting at my desk in the dark (well past dinner time) night after night, listening to this song on repeat. At that time I wondered why God had brought us to China and why, if we were following his will for our lives, things had to be so hard for us. But as I reflect back now, I see that he never left me or forsook me, but that he was faithfully by me all along. That he used those difficult times to teach and mold me, to shape and to guide me. And those things won’t be forgotten. China made me stronger.

Here are the lyrics and what they mean to me.

Oceans (by Hillsong United)

You call me out upon the waters (for us, this was our decision to move to China)
The great unknown (China) where feet may fail (we couldn’t stand or do anything on our own)
And there I find You in the mystery (in this unfamiliar place, we relied more on Christ)
In oceans deep (The depths of the ocean are dark and scary and often times uncharted)
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
(I will keep my focus on Jesus)
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
(He will give me his peace and sustain me)
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters (in the hardest of places and times, we see his grace more powerfully)
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
(He had a purpose for us in China)
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me (What the heck is this place?!?!?! Why can’t we DO anything ourselves?!?)
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now (God is always faithful)

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders (It shouldn’t matter whether we’re in China, in Texas or wherever else he might call us)
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
(since this is where you called us, help us to stay focused)
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander (You had more for me in China than if I would have stayed in Texas)
And my faith will be made stronger (and it was)
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

You can listen to the song here:

The parts of the song about being called out “upon the waters” has to do with a Bible story about Jesus calling Peter (one of his disciples) out of his boat and on to the water (Matthew 14:22-36). Peter stepped out of the boat in faith simply at Jesus’ command, “come,” and walked on the water until he took his eyes off of Jesus, at which point he began to sink. This song reminds me to step out in faith but to keep my eyes on Jesus.

There is another place in scripture where Jesus calms a storm (Matthew 8:23-27). It says, “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.” In China, at the beginning, it certainly felt like our “boat” was about to be capsized. There were tremendous, seemingly insurmountable waves- not being able to communicate, not having internet, changes with school, working ridiculous hours, not being able to get where we wanted to go, not being connected with familiar people, technology issues, feeling overwhelmed with work, the list of “waves” go on and on. And at times, it felt like Jesus was sleeping through it all. I resounded with the disciples when they came to him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” That’s how we felt… like we were drowning, like we were alone in our storm. But Jesus responded, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves and it was completely calm. God brought us out of our own storm and eventually calmed the waters. Qingdao transformed from a scary, unfamiliar, harsh place to a place where we found tremendous blessing. Now we look back on that place and those people with joy in our hearts for all that God allowed us to experience and for all the people he allowed us to meet.

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Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


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