I feel like I should have taken a picture. I didn’t.

But if I had taken a picture and posted it here, you wouldn’t notice anything special. It is just a desk and everyone knows what it looks like. This particular desk I’m writing about has a place for a tower computer on the left side and a file drawer and a shallow drawer on the right. It has a hutch over the desk with a door on each side and 3 cubby holes in the middle. It is a great desk but nothing particularly interesting about it.

It is just a desk.

But then why was it hard to leave it tonight?

Tomorrow we’ll take it down to the recycling room in our building and leave it behind as we head back to the USA for 2 months and then move to another city when we get back to Taiwan at the end of July.

It possibly has some life left in it, but it was breaking in some places and we weren’t sure it would do well in the move and we really don’t have a place for such a large desk in our new apartment anyway.

It is just a desk.

But it represents a lot about our ministry in Taiwan over the last 13 years.

The desk is all that remains at our old apartment since we moved everything else to Taichung on Monday. The computer is there in its place. I was sitting there tonight for several hours because if I didn’t finish financial reports and several other items of importance tonight… our travel schedule would make it difficult to get to those things for at least several days.

The rest of my family was already at our friends’ house where we are sleeping each night until we fly out on Thursday. I’ve always enjoyed being up late by myself just getting things done and tonight was no different… except that my music was reverberating off the walls of the otherwise empty room.

Tonight’s work may seem tedious to some. Financial reports and emails. In some ways they are tedious… but these activities are actually a lifeline to our supporters and I really enjoy these tasks. We want people to know what we do here in Taiwan and enjoy sharing the news and being accountable to our brothers and sisters.

It is just a desk.

But it is the place where I most often sat to practice writing Chinese characters over the years. There is sweat and tears on the desk from writing practice. I’ve written 10s of thousands of characters at that desk… at least! Probably 100s of thousands. That number seems staggering although the math to arrive at it is sound.

It is the place where I have sat to prepare countless lessons and sermons during our time here in Taipei. God has been gracious to allow me to see a great deal of fruit from those activities… time well spent… but will I ever know how far-reaching the impact will be?

I’ve read the bible through many times while sitting at that desk and prayed and prayed and prayed there. Outside of countless hours of prayer walking over the years, I’ve prayed more while sitting at that desk than anywhere else.

It is just a desk.

But it was donated by a family who knew we were going to Taiwan and thought we should bring a good desk with us. I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t remember anything about them except that I think her name was Karen. Angie will remember them, I’m sure. She always remembers stuff like that. We are a good team… Angie and I. The desk is a reminder that every minute of our time in Taiwan is made possible by financial supporters. I don’t want to waste a minute because of the sacrifices people make to donate money towards building an indigenous church planting movement in Taiwan. The desk is a tangible reminder of those generous donations.

It is just a desk.

But it’s function changed as time passed. The hutches started to fill up with children’s software and sometimes the regular computer mouse would be replaced with one that would better fit small hands. My kids are the first generation to grow up with a computer as a normal household item and they’ve put in their time at the desk, too. First with games. The games haven’t ever stopped and I play my fair share. But now the computer has multiple user accounts and homework takes priority.

It is just a desk.

But is has been a constant. Ministry is a challenge. Missions is a challenge. I absolutely love living in Taipei and treasure each co-worker (current and past) and especially treasure our Taiwanese brothers and sisters who are building the Lord’s church here. But it has been so hard for me much of the time. So. Hard.

And yet the desk was there when I needed to sit and read my Bible. It was there when I needed to make a plan. It was there when I needed to put my feet up and my head back and just… dream. Of course it isn’t there for me like a person can be there for me… but you know what I mean. It was a constant during times of great joy and great distress.

It is just a desk.

But it was really hard to leave it tonight after a final time sitting there… being productive… getting the job done… nothing fancy about the furniture and certainly nothing fancy about me… but for 13 years, we’ve been a team… me and that desk. I hope I’m not stretching the metaphor too far… but I think I’m like a good desk in many ways. Faithful, reliable, constant, can bear many burdens, and I hope… useful. Yeah I’ve gone too far. Typing at 4am can be an adventure sometimes. :-)

I’m sure I’ll figure out some way to keep my keyboard, mouse, monitor, pencils, and paper up off the floor in our new apartment. Pretty much any desk will work out fine for that purpose.

It is just a desk after all.

3 Comments on May 23rd 2012

3 Responses to “It Is Just A Desk”

  1. keevin mcglumphry says:

    nice. I like ‘it’s just a desk.’ thanks for persevering. Many lives have been touched because you have spent time behind that desk.

  2. David Fincher says:

    I remember seeing that desk when we were there before. Thanks for the post and the trip down memory lane. Hope to see you while you guys are back. Will you be coming through Moberly?

  3. Angie Pagel says:

    Who knew I’d cry over a piece of furniture. I loved reading your thoughts about this. I love to read anything you write! Thanks for the hours you put in at that desk. For some of the things you mentioned, it was me or you. Thanks for so often taking it on so I didn’t need to! Bye bye desk and so much that it represents. On to a new adventure. It will be exciting to pray over a new area and add new faces to our list. I’m glad we’re together in this…..

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