I love re-watching TV shows and movies. If I had the time and my TBR pile wasn’t already overflowing, I’d go back and reread some of my favorite books too. My family gives me a hard time when I become entranced in a show I’ve seen maybe seven times before. I can’t help it! I’ll still cry at the sad parts and laugh at the lines I’ve heard a million times.
Through some recent experiences outside of my fiction world, I’ve recently made a connection as to why rereading something is actually beneficial to us.
I’ve had the honor to teach the 3 year-olds through 5th grade at my church for the past two years on Sunday mornings. It doesn’t always feel like a privilege, but that’s what it is when I can step back and see how far we’ve come since we rebooted our kids programs after the pandemic. It hasn’t always been easy and I don’t teach as often as I used to now, but I still love seeing their faces each Sunday whether I’m teaching that morning or I see them after service.
When I started teaching the younger ages, I was in the middle of my second year of teaching high schoolers. It was a stressful year, and things lined up where I said goodbye to my high schoolers at the end of May. Honestly, I was excited to dive in more with the younger ages at church. A different pace, and to be honest, less attitude.
Don’t get me wrong. I do love my former students, and I think about them and pray for them often. Although, it has been better for me and my family now that I’ve stepped away from full-time teaching.
One thing I noticed though when it comes to young adults, they tend to think they know better than the teacher or authority figure in their life. They certainly don’t want to reread old stories they’ve heard a million times before. They also didn’t want to read anything new I tried to teach them either, but that was a separate issue. Haha!
The littles at church on Sunday mornings are still learning the accounts from the Bible. They don’t remember things as well as young adults can yet. So, it was refreshing teaching them lessons from the Bible I’ve read several times before but was new to their ears.
Except when we read the book of Jonah.
They grew really upset when the Scripture said a big fish instead of a whale. They were ready to fight me over that. That was one story they thought they knew up and down, and from 3 year olds to early tweens they were ready to battle over that detail. In the moment it was funny, but I also got the sense of deja vu from when I was teaching English to teenagers with the amount of spunk and attitude thrown my way.
I thought I was done with experiencing teenagers for a while.
Then I got asked if I would teach the high school drama class again at once a week at the school I said goodbye to in May. After praying on it, I agreed to the opportunity. It felt manageable, especially since I had material from teaching the class the year previously.
Then my husband and I got asked to be the youth leaders at our church for the upcoming church year. My first response was no. I even typed it before asking Daniel, but then deleted it and called him just to be on the safe side. I didn’t think I could take on one more thing, and I just knew he was going to want to pass on it too.
But of course, I was thrown for a loop when he immediately said, “Yeah, we can definitely do that!”
While I thought it would have been too much on my plate, I am so glad I said yes to both the drama class and leading youth. It has been the perfect balance of teaching, teenagers, and getting back to my family and a healthy mental state.
A couple months ago I decided to work through a personal Bible study on Jonah. This was after my lesson with the younger kids at church. Before going into it I was even a little skeptical about how a four chapter book could become a 7 week study. I’ve read the book several times myself, and I was wondering what else could I get out of this story I’ve heard so many times before.
After starting it I realized I sounded like the teenagers I taught English for two years. I had the same attitude of the younger children at church when they heard about what happened to Jonah. I didn’t think I could learn anything else, but boy oh boy I was wrong.
I gleaned so much from that study. One thing that stuck out to me was how God went ahead and paved the way many times throughout the book. He was waiting on Jonah’s submission to His call in order for the wonderful things He had planned to unfold.
Once Jonah obeyed God’s call for him to preach to Nineveh, it didn’t take long for the Ninevites to repent and turn from their sin against God. The city was huge, and worth full three days of travel to reach the entire city. But it only took Jonah one day’s journey for the news to spread like wildfire. How do you think that happened? I doubt that Jonah’s voice could be heard all throughout the city from where he was standing.
Was God surprised that Nineveh repented? No. Was Jonah surprised that God showed mercy on Nineveh, a city Jonah really did not care about? No. Jonah knew who his God was and is. It’s why he didn’t want to go there in the first place because of his attitude towards the people of Ninevites (another story for another day as to why, or feel free to dive in for your own research). Jonah still had a lesson to learn and some ugly parts in his heart needed to be revealed and cleansed.
God laid the way for the Ninevites to repent. He goes ahead of us, and we need to only trust Him that what will happen when we yield our obedience will be far greater than we could have hoped. Jonah’s story was used to not only the Jews but to the ones who would come to follow Christ. We still learn so much from those four seemingly small chapters. And they are so worth reading over and over.
After saying yes to being the drama teacher and a youth leader, there have been times when I wasn’t quite as ecstatic to prepare for class or a meeting. Sometimes I dreaded it when I didn’t feel quite prepared. Sometimes I get frustrated when my plans don’t seem to yield the enthusiasm I had hoped from those young adults. I may have not felt exactly what Jonah was feeling towards his preaching to the Ninevites, but I do know that I don’t experience Jonah’s displeasure at the aftermath.
Those kids bring my husband and me joy. They bring blessings I didn’t think imaginable. In hindsight, teaching English for two years helped equip me for what God has called me to do now. He paved the path for where I am now. I feel confident in being their teacher and leader whereas I was terrified to be in front of them three years ago. Where I don’t think I’m qualified to do what God calls me to do, I just need to remember that He prepares the way for me and is just waiting on my submission for those beautiful results to unfold. Jonah taught me to say yes a little quicker and there is no use in running from God. His Ways are way better than any of my own.
Saying yes has brought Daniel and I closer in our marriage by leading youth together. Ultimately, we have drawn closer to God, and that is the sweetest blessing of all.
Also, I decided to share with the youth some of things I learned in my study of Jonah. To my surprise, they shared the same fascination in rereading chapter 1, especially about focusing on the good that came out of Jonah’s disobedience in running away from God. The unbelievers on the ship taking Jonah as far as possible away from Nineveh repented and turned to God! We get zeroed in on Jonah’s storyline that we had overlooked that awesome product. God brings good out of some dark, ugly parts of our stories.
My youth kids also wanted to know more about the big fish that swallowed Jonah. They didn’t fight me as hard as the three year olds wanted to on the whale vs. big fish detail, but they did say they were going home to do more research on what a big fish would have looked like back during Jonah’s time. They think it might look like a whale. I took it as a win to spark their curiosity to dig deeper in God’s Scripture.
Now, as a reward for finishing my last blog post for 2022, I think I’ll go rewatch a beloved Christmas movie.