OVER KAN ZHU BOWL OF NOODLES
After church yesterday, my friends and I decided to have lunch at Kan Zhu in San Juan. I got to try their chewy hand pulled noodles with sweet and spicy eggplant and minced pork toppings. Yum!
Seated in front of me was a sister who, I realized then and there, is exactly 10 years older than me. We have the same birth dates. And so, as a curious younger lady, I asked her for wisdom. I'm sure the whole 10 years that she's gone ahead of me is filled with life lessons, unexpected experiences, plenty of ups and downs, and many adventures that God had planned for her.
"I wanted to learn everything already!"undeniably impatient, I told her, "I don't mind missing out on painful experiences that bring about major life lessons. Can I just learn them from you?"
(I'm not sure if you've felt the same way.. that you want to finish the journey in the wilderness as soon as possible.. that you want the chastening to be done faster.. that lessons may already be presented on a platter, and that you may hear God's Word speak to you already, because the circumstances are just too hopeless and agonizing.)
This gentle, yet stern, sister told me one word, "Independence."
"Independence from God?" I asked sheepishly.
She nodded. I had wanted to learn things badly so that I could go on life my way free from chastening, with the handy-dandy bag of lessons.
"Okay.. (Change question) what has changed? What's the difference between the 26 year old you and the 36 year old you?"
TEN YEARS OF WISDOM AND TEN YEARS OF CHASTENING
"Nothing much has changed on the outward," she said, "I was in my family business when I was 26. And now, I'm still in the same family business. I don't have much big achievements or milestones. Perhaps, the change is not on the outward, but more of internally... in the building of my character."
As years roll by, she has found herself to be more patient, loving and gentle towards people. She has become a more joyful person.
How has God built her character?
This godly lady had wanted to settle down when she was 24. But it seemed unlikely to happen. She waited, and waited, and waited.. until she was 33. Then it dawned on her that the idea of having a partner had become an idol for it was the source of joy and security in her life. She repented and let go of that idol. And soon, she has not only become a contented, but a grateful, woman of faith.
Then, I remembered a verse I recently read from Acts 17:26-28:
"and he determined the times set out for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being."
What a great encouragement to know that God has marked the time and place where I should be, and even for what I should undergo and learn. Knowing all things ahead would make me NOT seek Him, NOT reach out for Him and NOT find Him. It would simply make me, well, independent.
This verse has shown me one powerful attribute of God, that I can make an effort to remember, when I'm in the panic or impatient mode again.
By the way, this 36 year-old sister-in-Christ of mine, knows the verse by heart.
CAREER VS. CHARACTER
What I was expecting to gain from our conversation was more of 10 years of life lessons or tips that would make it easier for me to move on to the next chapter of my life or to where she is now. But I guess, God doesn't simply care in how fast I learn and how many milestones I've achieved. God cares more for my character and how I handle my current circumstances. And He wants my character to be like Jesus. Gosh, it will indeed take continuous chastening and purifying to make me like Him (if only there were shortcuts. :P) I guess, just as the example my sister has shown, it's her character that has changed over the span of 10 years, and not her career.
AGE AND WISDOM
She told me it's also not simply the age that will give you significant wisdom. Although, age may bring about great wisdom, the quality and quantity of time spent with the Lord may also contribute largely to it. "I've only known the Lord for 8 years (since she was 28 years old); and it's good that you, you've known the Lord way younger. You might gain even more wisdom when you reach my age."
She continued, "Be patient; and be grateful for every little thing that comes your way."
I guess she was telling me to take my time. Rather than rushing to the next scene or adventure, I should take my time to enjoy the moment. God has brought me here. How can I be grateful for today when my mind is of things tomorrow? How can I be joyful when all I've been wanting to do is to move? Having my current perspective, I might not be able to keep good ol' memories and wisdom and share them to someone 10 years younger than me.