We are moving. After living in Tianjin for the past 15 years, the Pines are going to be uprooting and planting ourselves in a new place to call "home". This move is not a surprise to us. We have been praying for God to open a door for our family to move to Gansu province for the last three years, and He has answered. We got news last week that Charly received a Chinese government scholarship to pursue his PhD in Minority Studies at Lanzhou University. We plan to move the beginning of 2011.
Since hearing the official news of the scholarship, we have had a mix of emotions in our family. This past Sabbath, Charly led us in a time of reflection and discussion of both our praise and sacrifice related to this move. Friendships here are one of the biggest sacrfices we will make!
I have always been intrigued with the deep bond of friendship between David and Jonathan. Their friendship is first mentioned in 1 Samuel 18:1, just after David defeated Goliath. We see evidence of Jonathan's similar risk-taking faith in the LORD when he bravely attacked the Philistine camp, accompanied only by his armor bearer, saying, "Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few." (1 Samuel 14:6)
David and Jonathan shared an amazing faith in their mighty God, and I believe this was the foundation of their friendship. While his father Saul wanted Jonathan to take the throne after him, Jonathan believed that David would be the next king, and fully supported him. When his father was out to kill David, Jonathan went to find David "and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 'Don't be afraid,' Jonathan reassured him. 'My father will never find you! You are going to be the next king of Israel, and I will be next to you as my father is well aware.' So the two of them renewed their covenant of friendship before the LORD."(1 Samuel 23:16-18)
This friendship reminds me of Frodo and Sam in the Lord of the Rings movies. My boys love the action and battle scenes of these movies, but I love the character that Sam plays! He is completely committed to Frodo and to doing whatever he can to help him on his mission. He is not concerned about getting glory for himself, but only in being a helper. Sam's heart truly grieves for Frodo as he sees his burden becoming greater toward the end of the journey, and he selflessly offers to carry the ring for him. Even when Frodo is deceived by Gollom (that seriously creepy character) into thinking that Sam is trying to steal the ring, and angrily sends Sam away, Sam returns as a true loyal friend, and stays with Frodo to the very end.
God has blessed us with friends (like Jonathan and Sam) who have been so supportive, faithful, and committed to helping us become all that God wants us to be! God has already given us experience with close long distance friendships, and we trust that He will sustain our special Tianjin friendships through this move. We also have hope that God will bless us with new faithful friends in Lanzhou.
Our trust is in His faithfulness!