On one of my few bus rides out of the city, I was the only foreigner. My getting on and finding a seat was of high interest. My seatmate and I exchanged smiles, she closed her eyes, and I opened my magazine. When the ride got bumpy, I gave up turning pages and looked up to see my new friend staring intently at me.
“Ni hao,” I said. She broke into a smile. “Oh, you speak Chinese!” And the questions began. "Are you married?" (Over 30 and not married!?) "Where are you from?" "Do you like China?" "Do you like Chinese food?"
I answered each one and asked a few in return. When there was a lull in our conversation, she patted my arm, and, with a worried look, she asked, “Does your father know you’re here?”
“Does he who formed the eye not see?” Psalm 94:9
I chuckled. Of course he knew I was in China. But it did bring up a thought I’ve often had. He doesn’t know where I am right now. No one does. My friends know I’m taking this bus to a nearby town and are awaiting my arrival. My colleagues know I was visiting a friend. But right this minute, no one knows.
Sometimes, as I have ridden through campus, navigated a subway line, crowded onto a bus, or walked through the market, this thought has hit me. Not necessarily in a sad way. I pinch myself and think "Wow, I live here in Yangon, Vientiane, Harbin." (You fill in your country of service) "I’m not visiting, I live here."
Sometimes exciting, often unpredictable and yet purposeful, and always the common denominator. Me. But not unseen. We have more than teammates, neighbors, husbands, children, and colleagues that may or may not know where we are. We have a Father God who watches and instructs and counsels forevermore.
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8
So, yes, precious seatmate. My Father does know I’m here!
When do you feel the most invisible? What situations make you wonder if anyone knows or cares where you are?