Native to New Jersey and ethnically native to China, I have found myself dwelling somewhere in the middle: Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although void of a playful ocean or an audience of mountains, the Oklahoma soil has something rich, luscious, and life-giving about it. The air is permeated with an insatiable yearning to see more, do more, be more. The ground quakes to see who can grasp real substance and tangibility as one may understand when holding a handwritten, postmarked letter. Even the rain, although few and far between, drums a tune that beckons the broken-hearted to a deep-seeded healing. At 22, Oklahoma is more than my current home; it’s the ground where I am choosing to get rooted.
Let’s face it, we all want to be something–someone memorable. A legacy or a legend, if you will. Often times, I see people who have great influence accomplishing incredible things every day. But when I see those people living out their dreams (especially on Instagram), I often find myself fatally pale in comparison. I know that God has implanted purpose in my heart, dreams and plans so big that my human brain can barely grasp. But am I ready for it? Am I in a place where I can be used as a vessel to carry out a purpose greater than myself?
And the answer is not yet.
I’ve struggled over the past few months with this concept because I thought I was ready to take on the world. I was like a tree that had been developing for 22 years, being nourished by the best fertilizer and watered by the most caring hands. I had finally graduated college and had gotten a degree, moved into an apartment, have a good-paying job in my field, learned how to cook (because knowing how to make a good dish of vodka alla penne is an essential part of taking on the world), ran a few half-marathons, repaired essential relationships with my family—you name it, I’ve conquered it within the last year. I had in my head that once I’ve gotten to this point in my life, I would be in a position to carry out all that God wants in my life within the first year post graduation. The tree that I had been watering for 22 years should finally be bearing fruit to last a lifetime!
But life is not like that, trees are not like that, and God is not like that. In John 15:5, 16, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing… You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.” In today’s society, we believe in quantity over quality. But in God’s kingdom, He believes in quality over quantity. I had this idea in my head that at 22, I would be building micro-lending institutions, aiding in youth crusades, helping human trafficking victims, evangelizing in foreign countries. My entire being was thrust out of alignment when I suddenly realized that the next 5 years of my life would be significantly less exciting.
In his book, Rooted, Banning Liebscher encourages: “Anybody can start a race. The real question over our lives is not how strong we will begin our race to pursue God’s call but how strong we will finish it…You have to let Him build your root system in secret before He leads you into making a visible impact in the world.”
So that’s why I’m in Tulsa. This is the place to declare victory over the tiny, still voice of God’s calling. This is the place to proclaim the truth of God’s Words when I know the devil is whispering lies about my worth, my calling, my life. This is the place where I am rooting myself to the Word of God and declaring, “Jesus, I surrender to You.”