Early last week, one of my co-teachers asked if I’d be available for dinner this week. I didn’t think much of it, and later in the week I heard that another co-teacher would be joining us.
Today finally arrived, and the three of us arranged to leave straight after work. I got to choose the menu, so I opted for shabu-shabu. It’s one of my favourites, but sadly I’ve had only one opportunity to eat it this year – on my very first day, actually! One might say I was proper ‘uitgehonger’.
We went to a beautiful restaurant just a stone’s throw from my home. I’d walked past a few times but never taken note. The decor was lovely and the food was tasty. But what I really enjoyed was the conversation.
All three of us are leaving the school at the end of February so we talked a little about our plans and about teaching in general. But pretty soon the conversation turned to our faith. See, all three of us are Christians (yay!) and we’ve often talked about it (double yay!). So the conversation took a very natural turn. While we were chatting, I just had to take a moment and praise God for all the ways in He’s revealed Himself to me this year.
One of my favourite parts of it all has to be the interconnectedness of the themes I’ve dealt with. If I read something in the Bible that stands out to me, you’d better know that I’ll come across a related article on Facebook (I’ve stated following a lot of faith-based pages in an attempt to make my newsfeed more palatable) and it’ll come up in at least one conversation in the near future. I’m all about patterns and links and I tend to look for them in all aspects of life. So of course during the conversation last night, three things came up – and all three happened to relate to things I’d read/studied in the last week or so.
Yesterday morning I woke up to messages from my friend back home containing some stuff she came across in her daily readings. It dealt with trusting God’s perfect timing. The way it was written was exactly what I needed to read for it to make an impact on me. And then later, when I checked Facebook, the very first thing I saw was related to the theme of God’s timing. So I shared it with my friend and reflected on it for the rest of the day. (Side note: I’m currently dealing with some pain issues and it feels like my to-do list is getting away from me. So I need to trust that I’m not missing out on opportunities here.) And then tonight, my one co-teacher was telling us something and the main point of his story was – you guessed it – to trust God’s process and not to rush it.
Later in the conversation, he was talking about how popular culture has adapted Biblical definitions, and the example he used was the concept of blessings. And guess what’s been on my mind all week?! Just yesterday I shared an article on Facebook dealing with the Biblical concept of blessings. Short version: earthly possessions aren’t blessings; anything that brings us closer to God (including rough times) are. I told them a little bit about the article, and then my other co-teacher shared about a new member at her church. This woman joined her cell group. She’s divorced and carries a lot of shame about it. And you know what their pastor said? Dude! (Well he didn’t say ‘dude’. I’m saying ‘dude’ because it’s so cool!) The Pastor told this woman that she was blessed, because her divorce lead her back to church and to joining the cell group. There ya go! What a perfect example!
But it doesn’t end there. At another point in the conversation, one of my co-teachers mentioned that he has decided to worry less about pushing himself to always get better and to rather enjoy himself with what he has. Once again I got excited, because earlier in the week I’d read a quote by someone who said (and I paraphrase) that our constant striving has become one of our greatest enemies because it prevents us from being truly thankful for what we have, because we’re so busy focusing on what we don’t yet have. We’re so busy seeking out the next great goal or reward for our efforts, that we often forget to stop and give God glory for what we already have. All three of us had examples of events in our lives where we’d stand to benefit more from appreciating the present rather than chasing the next goal. Deep stuff.
On the way home, my co-teacher commented that he admired my insight and that even though he’s been a Christian for a long time, he’s only just starting to learn about God’s true will for our lives. I explained that this year has also been a massive learning curve for me.
This evening’s events just served as such a real reminder that God really is everywhere if we let Him be.
Here’s to many more fellowship opportunities!
Shabu-shabu oh yeah!