I remember from years back, a pastor of mine gave a sermon mentioning about God’s sense of humor. As in, the Lord sometimes uses what we say, do, or think about on whims and turns them into lessons for our lives long after we’ve forgotten about the former. Well, it appears that my pastor was quite correct. As an example, before I graduated from high school, an opportunity came up for my class to state our personal quotes for the upcoming yearbook. Mine went like this:
“Time is a God-given thing; everyone is rationed 24 hours to use it for Him.”
I’ve long possessed a cache of encrusted personal problems – a time-management issue along with tendencies towards bitterness and forgetfulness of received blessings. Ever since my youth, I had troubles keeping up to timetables, despite repeated attempts to make and adhere to them (some of us call this nasty habit “Asian Time” – the inclination to add 15 minutes or more of delay to a scheduled event). In addition, I had a trend of taking a lot of successes in life for granted, easily overlooking the pluses in lieu of the roughs. Hypocrisy, you could call it, or simply a lack of appreciation for the rain that falls around me…
You see, I should’ve been extremely grateful in the past month, as I was granted a job opportunity in order to help kick-start the college loan paybacks. Working the equivalent of full time reminded me of past summer internships, learning new trades and meeting all kinds of people, but also bringing forth the harsh reality: half of each weekday is gone, and on top of the errands and various housework I need to do before and after, plus a lack of sleep, it soon lead to a string of tiring, stressful days that I sometimes wished would be delayed longer and longer upon departing, just for those precious hours of free time. When could I produce new artwork again? Why can’t I play more video games, or visit friends on weekdays now? Why are my parents still on my back about getting things done, despite a thrust forward into the real world? And why do I feel so worn out all the time, except in the hour or so before required sleep?
But in reality, I had no right to complain. I was living at home, sleeping in my own bed, fed by my parents and not having to worry about cooking for myself, doing laundry elsewhere, or running for groceries every week. I could finally earn some money for saving and for paying off the bills, the latter of which I dreaded in the previous post. I met new people and I learned abilities valuable to my engineering passions, not to mention a chance to build leadership skills.
And as God had a sense of humor for using His time, he also used my desire to help others in ways I didn’t expect. Before I left college, I had a growing hope to stay at home upon graduating in order to give back to those around me – and what a blessing that has been! Although the money was a great benefit, none of that mattered compared to serving other people on the job, at home, at church, on the Internet, or anywhere else. Though I constantly battled anger about losing personal time, I knew that ultimately, what the Lord wanted was for me to live for His glory, in order to be an example of faith in action:
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
– Ephesians 2:10 (NIV, ©1984)
And I had no right to be bitter about it all, for every day I am still alive on this Earth is a blessing in itself. Ultimately, these past several months reminded me of Jonah’s convoluted journey to the city of Nineveh. Namely, after he visited it in order to warn the inhabitants about impending judgment (were it not for the Lord in radically using Jonah for such a role). Could I run away from God’s purpose? Certainly not. But who was I to be obsessive-compulsive about the little setbacks in life, when there are greater to look forward to? I needed to look at the bigger picture (painting?), of which I could only see through prayer and constant devotion to what mattered to the Lord most.
“Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.
But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?’
“I do,” he said. ‘I am angry enough to die.’
But the LORD said, ‘You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?'”
– Jonah 4:5-8 (NIV, ©1984)