The privilege of an invitation

Do you remember what it was like to be 6 years old and invited to a birthday party? You’d receive a brightly coloured fill-in-the-blanks invitation that told you where and when and came with the unspoken promise of cake and party bags!

kid-with-a-party-hat-and-party-blower_1187-171The invitation carried with it much more though, than details and the promise of fun, it told you something even more special: You were chosen.

At some point, when your little 6-year-old friend sat down to write their birthday list, they put your name on it. It was a privilege to be invited.

I wonder how our generation has lost that sense of privilege. Is it that we have so many more friends and receive dozens of invitations? Is it that Facebook culture has introduced the ability to haphazardly invite all 756 of your ‘friends’ at once? Is that why we don’t want to commit until we know whether we’ll feel like it on the day?

I think it’s sad. I know when I invite people to something, it’s because of all the people I know, I chose them. I know that there are times when being invited can feel like more of a burden than a privilege, but I try to remind myself that, irrespective of who it is from, an invitation is always a privilege. An invitation means they thought of me, and they chose me.

Let’s not take being chosen for granted.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #12 – ‘Groceries’ is a broad word

I’m five weeks off the end of my no retail challenge. I think I’ve learned a fair bit. I’ve given up a lot, but I also know I’ve exploited a couple of loopholes.

This weekend I bought a tree – a mandarin tree. And yes, I justified it as groceries. I mean, that’s what it will ultimately turn into, right? What’s $40 now when in two years I’ll have all the free mandarins I want?20151025_170005

I do think it’s justifiable, but I could have tried harder. I could have found out how to cultivate a tree from cuttings (is that even possible?) or grow it from seeds. I guess that’s the difference between me doing this challenge as a challenge and doing it as a necessity.

I can look for loopholes and excuse myself for buying things under the banner of groceries. I really have no idea what it’s like to live pay check to pay check and not be able to afford a new dress. I’ve gone without by choice. I can’t presume to know what it’s like to go without by necessity.

I hope I’ve learned more discipline. I hope I’ve learned to live simply and not gratify my lust for shopping. But at the end of the day, I have to acknowledge, that really, I’m still a rich girl who can afford to look for loopholes.

When A Student Makes It All Worth It. (But it’s too small a thing)

Living with a chronic illness, and being a teacher are giant tasks in and of themselves, but combining them, for the last six years has been the challenge of my life.

higher-1_21205205Though I only teach part-time, there have been many times, weeks, even months on end, when the task has seemed insurmountable. But I push on, and one of the driving factors is that I work at a school where I’m allowed to share my faith with my students. I’ve often said that if I saw even one student in heaven, if even one got saved as a result of my ministry, it would make all these years of struggle and fight worth it.

Last year I had a stand-out student in my Religion class. She loved coming to class and she’d hang off every word, but she was broken. On several occasions she stayed after class to ask me questions, often crying. I shared Jesus with her, over and over, but she just couldn’t seem to grasp it. I prayed for her, and bought her a Bible. Still she struggled, and at one point she ended up in hospital as a result of severe depression. Not long after that she left the school. I worried for her and I prayed for her, but it was out of my hands.

Last week I attended our school’s musical. During the interval a young lady ran up to me and hugged me. It was the girl from my Religion class the year before. She looked so happy and vibrant and she said she was doing well. I asked her what she was planning on doing next year, when she’s finished school. With shining eyes she told me that she was going to Bible College! I could have fallen over! What?

As I asked her about it, she shared what has happened over the last year; that she’s at church all the time now; that she’s found God and He’s changed her life. Then she said some things that really impacted and humbled me. She told me that she has so much love for me; that I’m her inspiration. That it was those Religion lessons and chats that led her to God. I was lost for words. After six years. Finally, a life changed for eternity.

All credit and glory goes to God. He does the saving; He gave me the strength to get through days when I had nothing and he gave me the privilege of being used for His greatest purpose. Even more, He let me know. So often we hope that lives are changed or impacted in ways that we’ll never know about, but what a privilege and blessing to actually be told. To actually have that student chase you down and tell you they’ve been wanting to get in touch with you for months. It’s rare.

So, I’ve had my one. The one who was going to make it all worth it; but you know what? It’s not enough. I was reminded of the passage in Isaiah when God says that reaching the Jews was too small a thing, He was going to save the Gentiles too. This is my conviction: I’ve been privileged to be part of a divine miracle; a soul brought from death to life, but to rest at one? It’s too small a thing. I see hundreds of teenagers every day who need Jesus, so for as long as I’m in this job, as long as God gives me strength to do it, I’ll be sharing the gospel with any who are willing to hear it.