2016 has turned into 2017. My 48 years are turning into 49. Numbers seem so important to us, but honestly, everything feels the same.
Change creeps up on us slowly, subtly, in little steps and shifts, and we’re often unaware of it until we seem to awake to things being different, and in retrospect we realise how much has changed. Good change seems to require just a simple, consistent, persistent Being. At. It.
After a wonderful, restful break up in the mountains, coming back to the city was a little hard to handle, and it took a few days to deal with the feelings. However, we soon got back into routine, school started, our watchman’s wife came back from the village where she had gone to get her mind off the death of her baby, faculty meetings started, and life soon came back to what we had been used to.
Dad has been doing well in his 91 year old health, and we’re grateful to God for so much grace in his life. From eating nothing about half a year ago, he now prowls around at midnight, rustling around the dining room and kitchen, looking for things to eat! And this after a full dinner! His eye seems to have settled and he’s pretty much back in his usual routine, dozing a lot, reading some (he can’t do much of it due to it straining his eye) and arguing with my mom! My mother in law is here with us for some weeks too, and it’s a great blessing having her as she’s good friends with my mom and the two give each other company a lot.
The new term in school has been very different. After the struggle to settle the constant disruption issues in my Grade 8 class, the new year and new term started on the interesting note of a much closer relationship with the students, better learning and more laughter in the class. Now just a few weeks remain till March 25, when I will have finished 6 months with the school, handed the class over, and moved back to my own institute to refocus on our language classes there.
And business continues to be worryingly low in our language school, now with a down-sized team, but little rise in the number of students.
Reflecting on how 2017 feels much like 2016 by virtue of Life just carrying on seamlessly, I’ve been endeavouring to keep my gaze on the vision I have for each of my situations and people I’m involved with, knowing that there is no real substitute to keeping at it. Being faithful. Plodding on with measured tread. Being constant. Consistent.
It strikes me that it’s not possible to be reliable without vision. That one needs to keep reflecting on one’s goals; on where one is heading. On embracing new situations as help-mates that will shape our growth to fit the ‘Us-Shaped’ futures that God has kept for us. Futures that are built on God’s vision for us becoming what we’re meant to be; really born to be, regardless of what we may appear now.
I often read articles by Sid Savara (a man who started intriguing me about a year ago in the context of having vision and goals), and right now, having just received a mail in my inbox, I checked out the article, and I quote here from that with his permission –
So the context really matters. It’s very important to remember what it is that you’re trying to do, what matters – and stay focused on that.
It’s not that there is always a right thing to do – but there is very often a right thing that needs to be focused on for that specific task.
Take a step back, look at the bigger picture and ask yourself: what are my main goals for what I’m doing in this situation? Why am I taking these actions?
You know I absolutely don’t believe in coincidences. Sid’s lines paraphrase what I’m trying to say, but say it with a practicality that is simple and beautiful.
And often in God’s plans, the values and bottom-lines are very different from what the rest of the world thinks. Jesus tells people ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’ Matthew 6:33. The context is the very necessary things that we do need in this life. However, the way we go about appropriating them and what forms the bottom-line in our life seems to be of more critical importance than those necessary things. I was reminded of this some weeks ago on reading a post called Deep Water by a blogger whom I respect very much on a blog called Beauty Beyond Bones. The incident she mentions in her post, of Jesus’ disciples fishing all night and catching nothing, was the subject of my reflections in connection to the down-season we’re facing financially in our language school, and I was impressed by the fact that the disciples, although they were tired and dis-spirited, made the critical decision to regather their strength, and go back and do the same thing all over again, with one vital difference – follow the instructions given to them by Jesus. The instructions baffled good fishing strategy, and seemed almost facetious, but the astounding catch that followed brought such an extraordinary awe upon them, that it resulted in them making the life-changing, and ultimately history-changing, decision to follow Jesus, and in a similar incident later, in reinstatement and encouragement when they had fallen away after the crucifixion. It caused them to rule and overcome their circumstances, rather than be at their mercy.
The January page of my 2016 calendar was an important one; one that I’m trying to practice with God’s help. Although the calendar is useless, the picture now hangs up on the wall in front of my desk reminding me every time I look at it of having vision and following God’s instructions. It helps me realign myself to what God is saying every time I drift off. It helps me to seek that place where vision, God’s nudging and instruction and consistent, persistent faithfulness all mesh. It keeps me from being at the mercy of my circumstances and running the treadmill of today’s rat-race.
It helps me to move from 2016 to 2017, from being 48 to being 49, without unrealistic expectations, but with plenty of hope; without regret, but with valuable lessons; without the condemnation of failed opportunities, but with eagerness for more opportunities that a loving God will send me, as He teaches me to live.