Eugene Cho

solitude for the soul in seoul

We’re spending our last few days in Korea now.  If you don’t know much about Seoul, it is the capital of South Korea and one of the largest cities in the world.  It ranks from anywhere between 1 to 10 – depending on how people define the words: city, large, density, etc.  The city itself has about 10.5 million residents and the larger Seoul area has about 24 million people – plus or minus a few thousand.

In short, it is crowded but an amazing story nevertheless.  About 50 years ago, Seoul as we know it did not exist as it was toppled by the devastation of the Korean War.  However, it now stands as one of the emerging premier global cities.  It has hosted the summer Olympics [1988] and co-hosted the FIFA World Cup [2002].  And yet, with it’s fast paced growth has come its share of growing pains.  You can see it on a daily basis.

While I’m enjoying my time in Korea, I’ve struggled with the density and fast paced lifestyle here. While I’m an extrovert on my blog, I am very much of an introvert.  Some would even consider me close to a borderline extreme introvert.  But finding TIME and SPACE to reflect, medidate, and pray have been far and between.  I went on a personal hiking trip couple weeks ago on a weekday only to be joined on the trails to the pinnacle of Suraksan Mountain by at least  a thousand other people.

I wonder if that’s one of the reasons [asides from people being convicted to PRAY] that so many people gather at their respective churches for early morning prayer.  At the church I served at between 1993-1995, nearly 2000 people gathered EVERY DAY [besides Sunday] at the two EARLY MORNING PRAYER GATHERINGS at 5AM & 6AM.  All the pastors, including myself, was “asked” to be present for the 5am service.  Needless to say, I had to make some serious life adjustments but it was so good for the soul…

Question: What do you do to rest and nourish your soul?  Where do you go if anywhere?

Click on these pictures. They are amazing and convey a glimpse of how large and crowded Seoul is:

These aren’t my personal pictures.  These and more incredible pictures can be found here.

Filed under: family, travel

11 Responses

  1. Darren P. says:

    Wow. That first picture is simply amazing. Serene since I’m assuming it was taken at dusk but definitely shows its mammoth size.

    For the soul, I simply need to spend some time in quiet to pray, read, and place myself before the Lord.

  2. Tyler says:

    Those pictures are incredible. From one introvert to another…I salute you.

  3. brotherterrysimmons says:

    I actually like to go to the city. Growing up in a rural area, the faster paced rhythms of urban areas [especially city centers] have a great appeal to me. It feels good to be part of a crowd.

  4. gar says:

    Wow! Those pictures definitely show off the size and scale of how dense Seoul.

    To answer your question: I usually try to spend some alone time doing something I enjoy like reading, listening to music… even some get some play time on my Nintendo DS, haha. As for the place, I usually stay at home, but when that’s filled with people… I usually just end up staying up late…

  5. Kevin Davis says:

    I love to escape in the music of my iPod and sit in a Cafe somewhere. I also utilize the quiet house during my children’s nap time on the weekend. You definitely have to be intentional about finding though.

  6. Sue says:

    Wow. Those pictures are amazing.

  7. Diane says:

    Amazing pix. And amazing, as you point out, how cities can be restored.

    Eugene, I’m Diane from Jesus Creed and am inviting you to be part of my meme. For more info, please go to http://emergingquaker.blogspot.com/.

  8. anu says:

    When I was in high school, I would run. As soon as classes ended, I would find my running shoes and run at a nearby park clearing my head and my heart before God. These days, I barely run at all, but every once in a while, I will find a quiet time in the day and a quiet moment in my house to sit anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes with my eyes closed and my heart open to the voice of the Lord. For me, half of the battle is quieting the constant thoughts racing through my head, but I, nonetheless, feel more at peace at the end of this time then I did at the beginning.

  9. Ben says:

    I got love for the Motherland

  10. […] Korea is so crowded as I shared with you earlier.  On the one night we went to a street shopping area called […]

  11. […] dad went hiking one morning by himself.  He said he needed some time for “solitude for the soul.”  We think he just wanted to play by himself.  He climbed up Mt. Suraksan and enjoyed this view of […]

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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