Today, THE day the Lord has made has value in and of itself. It isn’t just a stepping stone to be used to get to tomorrow. Author Alicia Britt Chole shares an amazing lesson she learned from a banquet she attended while serving in China.
The following is an excerpt from a book titled: Anonymous (Jesus’ hidden years and yours) by Alicia Britt Chole. Although what she shares applies to every believer in any context they might find themselves in, her insight is crucial for every missionary to understand.
What she communicates is the “fleshing out” of the truth of Psalm 118:24 that tells us that THIS is the day the Lord has made and how God’s people should respond to it.
Some struggle with living in the past, others with living for the moment. Personally, my struggle has more often been in living for the future. As a young adult, my gaze was always set toward the next step or season or degree or plan or place or…..
Distracted with daydreams of tomorrow’s potential, I often found today’s reality pale and tasteless in comparison. Before I could even be capable of valuing hidden years, I first had to start valuing each day as something more than just a boring prelude to the exciting future.
My perspective is thankfully different now (one or two or twenty-something years later), and I trace the beginnings of that shift to an unusual experience around a dinner table. After finishing my undergraduate studies, I went to Asia and eventually found myself tutoring students in English at a church-sponsored study hall on Tsing Yi Island. The beautiful people and their fascinating culture completely captivated me. In fact, I planned to spend my entire life serving and learning from the Chinese. (Obviously, since I am writing from the Ozarks of Missouri, that plan has since been revised.)
While there, my co-workers invited me to a “banquet,” which I equated in my mind with eating lots of food plus meeting lots of people plus enduring a painfully constructed speech. Walking in to the restaurant, I soon discovered that Chinese banquets are more like journeys than meals. The experience that night unfolded slowly over several hours as course after course of what ultimately became a twelve-course meal was presented at our large, round, rotating table.
Back home in Texas, normally the first “course” at a restaurant was a bright bowl of chips and salsa. Of Hispanic descent, I genetically craved good salsa, but that is not why I went to restaurants. The chips and salsa were just fillers–something to get past, to get through, to get on with the main course that was not there yet (but was coming!) Then perhaps course number two would be salad. Most often it was quite clear that the master chef had not touched that salad. It too was just filler, something to get past, to get through, to get on with the main course that was not there yet (but was coming!).
Well, something surprised me about that Chinese banquet. Through course after course after course, I was not able to identify anything as “just a filler”. Nothing stood out, as “only an appetizer” to get through, to get past, to get on with the main course that was not there yet (but was coming!). Every course–in presentation, in taste, in texture–bore the marks of a master chef. Then the obvious occurred to me; the reason no course looked like filler was because , from the master chef’s perspective, no course was a filler. To him, every course was main.
Now, I confess that after a while I became a little distracted at the banquet and my mind started wandering back to past courses. Like that shark-fin soup–what was I thinking? Why did I not get more of that dish when I had the chance?! Then my thoughts would drift ahead to future courses as I worried about the possibility of chicken feet being on the menu. While I spent my energy reminiscing about and regretting the past, or daydreaming about and dreading the future, the course before me grew cold, and I wondered why it did not taste as good as it should.
That experience has returned to my memory countless times because I, and perhaps we, have a tendency to think that “main” is out there, not right here. Main is on hold, waiting to appear until after….we finish our education or get married or find that dream job or start a family or resolve that conflict or complete that task or get out of debt, or retire or slow down or……
In moments when I am tempted to treat this gift called time as though it were some unfortunate filler, I hear a gentle whisper from God in my soul: Child, I am the God who wastes no man’s time. To me, every course in your life is main.”
Main is not behind us. Nor is main way out ahead of us. To our God, this course–call it transition, further studies, unexpected illness, financial crisis, grief, or a desert–is as full of potential as any course ever has been and any course ever will be.
Every course–and certainly every day–is a gift from god. (Enjoy it while it’s hot!)
Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole (Pages 18-21)