Walking toward holy, what I learned from my time in Japan

When we lived in Japan, my Mom would send care packages about every month. Oh, the joy that came in those boxes! There were VCR tapes of TV shows from home like Full House, Seinfeld, and a new favorite, Home Improvement. The scent of chocolate would fill the air from the Snickers and Reece Cups she so lovingly included. There were boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Betty Crocker Potatoes, brownie mix, and other convenience foods that made life easier for so many reasons.

Even after I acclimated to life in Japan, I kept one foot in my homeland.

It was a rocky start, but I enjoyed my time in Japan. I just never immersed myself in the culture. I dabbled in some of the festivals and holidays, and I loved making Kimekomi dolls. I also continued to celebrate American holidays and do cross-stitch, both thanks to my Mom’s care packages.

They say that hindsight is 20/20. I often ask myself if my life would be different if I had gone all-in and completely immersed myself in the Japanese life. Maybe my Japanese language skills would have been stronger, and I could have made a difference for someone in the United States who needed an interpreter. Or what if I understood the Japanese school system better? Could that make a difference in our community today? How would a total immersion into that culture have changed my life and the lives of those I met?

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

Sometimes I think I do the same thing with my relationship with God. I read my Bible so that I can check it off my to-do list. I have quiet time with my Savior, but too often, I fit that time around my worldly schedule.

My phone is full of Christian music, but I also have ZZ Top’s Tush on my playlist. I try to get to every Christian movie as they come out, but I have also seen some pretty raunchy movies in my life. I read a lot of Christian fiction, and I’ve read James Patterson. I will praise God anywhere and loudly, but I will sometimes get testy with the Tim Horton’s drive-thru teller when they mess up my order too. I tend to walk a tightrope of holy and worldly.

All of this leads me to ask; what if I only filled my head with wholesome Christian music, literature, and movies? What happens when the priority is spending time with God, in His word, in prayer, and listening for His voice? Would people see a better picture of Jesus if I always loudly praise Jesus and choose compassion too? While I can never be completely holy on this side of heaven, I can choose to reach for holy over the world.

That would mean not just dabbling in my bible reading but immersing myself in it. It would mean choosing wholesome over worldly, compassion for others over self, and finding intentional time with Jesus. Every. Single. Day.

It will take a tremendous amount of self-discipline to choose holy every day. How can we sustain this journey when the human factor continues to intrude on our walk to holiness? Jesus told us we would have to take up our cross to follow Him. Am I willing to give up the things of this world to be closer to holiness? Are you?

“And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” 1 John 2:17

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