“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps,” Proverbs 16:9 (NLT).
It is not difficult at all, especially during the Christmas season, to find ourselves tangled in the unrelenting web of busyness. It’s easy to find ourselves overwhelmed with plans that really don’t have anything to do with Jesus or remembering His birth. Our culture, in fact, inundates us with images and advertisements that often paint nothing more than a commercialized snapshot of the most beautiful time of year.
However, we need not succumb to the busyness of the season. Let us remember that, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps,” Proverbs 16:9 (NLT). Let us take a deep breath—that reverie in the midst of chaos—and focus on taking time for what really matters.
As I write this blog, I am reminded of a story one of our ISI family members sent in. It wonderfully highlights the beauty and importance of slowing down.
It was during the Christmas season when this individual invited a group of international students to come see a church drama presentation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Nick, a postdoctoral research student, showed up at the group’s meeting location. But he came only to deliver a message: He was too busy to join the group. He would not be able to attend the play because he had to work in his lab. He just came by to say “hi” to everyone.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go, Nick?” our ISI friend asked. “It’s really a good story.”
“I wish I could,” Nick replied, “but I just really don’t have time. By the way, what is the play about?”
Our ISI friend responded with a smile, saying that “It’s about a guy who was too busy to explore Christmas.”
“No way,” Nick said. “Really? You’re not just making that up?”
“Really,” she assured him. “You should come with us. After all, it is Christmas time.”
Here is what happened next, in our ISI friend’s own words:
“Curiosity began to replace Nick’s reluctance and I silently praised God when he changed his mind and agreed to come join us for the play. As the story portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge’s encounters with the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, the crotchety main character began to realize how his past had jaded him from that which is really good and meaningful—caring only for one’s fellow man; not just getting ahead in a worldly sense. By the end, his heart had thawed, and he got another chance to make his life count. Throughout the play, I noticed that Nick seemed transfixed. During the intermission, he confided to me that this play was really speaking to him and was exactly what he needed to hear. He thanked me over and over again for talking him into going. In my heart I knew that God wanted him there. It also made me wonder if I’m sometimes too busy to hear what He has to say to me as well.”
What a wonderful story of God’s hand at work! I want to thank all of our ISI colleagues and volunteers who make the time to reach out to international students! The best and brightest students continue to travel far to seek learning and truth. And thanks to the Lord and the work of our staff members and volunteers, they still find far more than they expected.
They have real encounters with the Son of God. And they get the gift of this encounter when we give them the gift of time.
These amazing connections and testimonies occur because people took the time to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are blessed to know so many lives are touched each year!
So, as we approach the celebrations of the birth of our Savior, I pray that the Lord will determine your steps today—and everyday! I pray that none of us is so busy that we might miss a message from Him. I pray for all of us to live our days with open ears and open hearts to hear what He has to say to us.
For More Information
Learn more about blessing the life of an international student by becoming a Friendship Partner though ISI.
Learn more about becoming a Prayer Intercessor for ISI.