In his book “The Shantung Compound: The Story of Men and Women Under Pressure”, Langdon Gilkey wrote about people imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp in Northern China. He described the group as business people, missionaries, doctors, professors, prostitutes and junkies all crammed into an old mission station. They suffered privation but not torture, malnutrition but not starvation. He wrote “the fundamental bent of the total self in all of us was inward, toward our own welfare… and we hardly seemed able to see it in ourselves”. They lost the necessary balance of doing our inner work and being outward with our kindness.
The retirement of a long term and beloved pastor pulls at us to focus on ourselves and away from our calling at this crossroads of our city. We need to grieve and do our inner work. We need to help each other with sensitivity and listening.
We also need to be outward. The work of love goes on. Our resolve is to be part of that work. Eric Liddell of “Chariots of Fire” fame, was imprisoned at that Shantung compound for two years. Liddell was a world class runner who became a missionary who taught science and chemistry to children. In prison he organized games and worship, taught science to children and cared for people of every sort. A Russian prostitute said that he put up some shelves for her and was the only man who did not want anything in return. Liddell started each day with prayer, Bible study and meditation. He found that sweet balance of tending his own soul and loving all.
May we tend our souls and continue the work of love. ~ Jim England