Redeeming the Time

What a blessed Sunday it’s been. I met a pastor from one of the other regions who just had an expression on his face and in his manner that seemed to exude the love and peace of God. I’m not sure how else to describe it. He brought a sweet and blessed message, and we had a dear time of fellowship with him afterwards. I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again in this life, but I suppose, as Timothée, another pastor I met a couple of months ago, said in bidding me goodbye “May God be with you and even if I don’t see you again here, I’ll see you in heaven.” I thought of Tim’s farewell as I watched this pastor walk into the train station. He had likewise bid me goodbye saying that he wasn’t sure that we’d cross paths again but hoped that God would be with me tomorrow as I teach as well as during the rest of my stay here in France.

God brings people into our lives for a reason even if it’s as brief as just a few hours on a Sunday. Time is valuable. We’re not always meant to meet people and know them for a lifetime. Sometimes we only know them for a few hours. In either case, we should never miss an opportunity to use what time we have to encourage one another and realize that life is so much more than just what’s going on inside of ourselves. Our prayer should always be to stay faithful to the Lord no matter what happens and that through our lives we may be a blessing to someone else.

I came here to expand my knowledge and understanding of the French language and culture, but my experience so far here has been so much more than that. God has shown me His people here. He has given me a love for them. He has given me glimpses of how their lives though different in culture and language are not so vastly different from my own as I originally thought. How else could I love His people from the moment I meet them to then realize in some cases that only God knows if our paths will ever cross again in this life? It may seem to be a depressing thought, but I don’t really find it depressing so much as just “frappant” as the French say. “Frappant” means “striking” or “gripping.” I just feel like the French word more closely approaches the feeling I’m trying to convey. Essentially, it’s one of those times when you feel a need to stop and ponder.

It’s a strange thought to ponder indeed especially as I’ve started working on arrangements to go home in July. Part of me is tempted to see if I could stay another year since I can technically renew my contract with the university here, but the practical side of my brain usually reminds me that I have duties and commitments back home. Maybe some might say to go for it and stay another year, but I could never take such a decision lightly.

I’m in such a strange quandary of feeling so homesick for the U.S. while at the same time nearly crying at the thought of leaving France. It’s not unusual, I know. It’s all part of it. One moment you’re nearly counting down the days until you leave and within a couple of months you want to hang on to each day begging time to not pass too quickly. We’ve been exhorted to redeem the time. It is my prayer that I effectively do so with what time I have left here. God gave me the grace to come and to get through what seemed like a mountain of complications. He’ll give me the grace to go when it’s time to leave too. He’ll continue to take care of my friends who have become like family here in France just as He cares for my dear ones back in the U.S.

Do forgive me for getting so incredibly behind on the blog. I’m back from vacation and am working on a post which gives a glimpse of the traveling my brother and I did. Until then though, may the Lord be with you even if our paths never cross (again) in this life.

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