The track was long and winding. The trees and countryside flew by my eyes in such a quick succession that I had a hard time making out the shapes and sizes of the things I was seeing. It seemed to never really end.
This twelve-hour train ride was never going to be easy, but it could honestly not have been any worse. Here I was stuck in a compartment on a train from Wuhan, China to Shanghai, China. An overnight train no less. This compartment, meant to sit six people, was filled with over twenty people. I was squished against the window with my face pressed up against its cold hard panes. A small Chinese man was asleep while pressed up against my left side and I could not move without waking him. He seemed so confortable….which made no since to me at all. I was trying to sleep but my mind just wouldn’t settle long enough for me to fall off to sleep. Part of me worried about being robbed during the night. A creepy woman stared at me continually throughout the night while speaking with her friend in a dialect of Chinese that I could not make out. Her eyes were shifty and seemed to peer into my very being as she bored holes through me with her gaze. Could I possibly be that good looking? No. I am just an oddity on a train. A foreigner. A Gwai Lo, a foreign devil.
And boy, was I cold. I had two a sweatshirt and a jacket on but I was still freezing. The train had many windows missing and the air flew in at mind-numbing rate. People huddled close together to keep warm but nothing really seemed to provide the warmth we all wanted.
So, as I watched the night-swept countryside fly by me, my mind finally allowed itself to think beyond the cold and crowded area I found myself in and on to my reason for this cross-country trip.
She didn’t know anything about my trip or its reason. All she knew was that I was going to Shanghai for Christmas with a few friends. Well, that was true….but it wasn’t the end of the story. I boarded this train with a goal in mind. To make it home for Christmas and nothing was going to stop me. I needed to get to Kristin so I could ask her something that I had wanted to ask her for a long time. I wanted to ask her to marry me.
So, my mind raced. It ran through all of the possible scenarios and outcomes of this tiny little question. I was so ready to see her again after so many months apart and couldn’t wait to see the look on her face when I walked through that door. She wasn’t expecting me until the middle of January so this was going to be one incredible surprise.
With these warm and happy thoughts, I slowly started to drift off to sleep. Not a deep sleep, mind you. This was a sleep of one keeping an eye on the shifty lady across the way. But it was the sleep of one who had conviction of purpose and his eyes on the true love of his life. She was a simply a few thousand miles away and the journey was going to make it that much sweeter when we would meet.
As we careened through the night at breakneck speed, I awoke to a simple thought. Have I ever pursued a relationship with God with the same passion as I am right now? Would I cross the globe, literally going so far on the other side of the world that if I went any further I would be closer, to be with Him? Would I sacrifice lonely nights in an old train with no windows to see Him? Was I willing to take the same journey for Him?
This realization made me sit up. The guy next to me wasn’t happy at being woken from his sleep by my sitting up. Then again, I am not his pillow. He grumbled something about the foreigner and then turned over and made friends with the man beside him by laying his head on the man’s shoulder. Weird.
So, as I thought about these questions, I guess I came to a conclusion. I could not chase any relationship in this world more than I chased after Him. But I loved Kristin and truly did not want to be any less passionate about her and my love for her. What to do? I thought about this question through the snores of my companions until I finally reached the only solution I could possibly reason.
I needed to chase a relationship with God at an even more breakneck speed than how I chased a relationship with Kristin. I needed to chase Him.
I laid my head back down against the cold windowpane and I suddenly felt renewed with energy. Chasing a relationship with God was going to be the greatest journey ever and I know that God is going to bless me through this journey.
He already did. She said yes.