Times and Seasons
by Naomi Villegas
If you would ask a teenage girl now if they would want to go to South Korea and why, they would either probably say, “No, because of the disputes the North and South are having at the moment.” Or, “Yes”. Either because of the oppas (Korean men), the street food, the fashion, the K-pop music or the culture.
But when I was 13 years old, I remembered watching my first Korean drama and it wasn't the oppas that I noticed, but the scenery. I wanted to go to South Korea to experience all four seasons. The winter snow, the spring flowers, the orange and red leaves in autumn and the luscious green trees in summer.
South Korea has been my dream country ever since I was 13. From that time onwards, I planned my entire trip to South Korea- the itinerary and the expenses. It took almost 10 years for that dream to come to fruition. By God’s grace and blessing, He allowed me to go in a way that I would never have imagined. Suddenly, just out of the blue, there was an opportunity to go and teach English there. I “casually” (by that, I meant, I really just gave it a shot!) applied for a job, and within a month, I was on my way to my dream country. It happened so fast, and yet I didn't know God was working out something so great for me.
You see, if I left 13 years ago, I would've spent my own money to get to Korea. But how awesome is God? He paid for everything! My entire trip to Korea was paid for (my plane tickets, a cozy, fully-furnished apartment); plus the opportunity to do what I love the most- teaching. I was able to experience South Korea as a resident, not just as a tourist.
Three and a half years have passed and my time in South Korea has come to an end. It was time for me to go back to New Zealand.
My fascination for seasons has taught me four things:
1. Seasons are temporary.
It’s not going to be winter forever. It’s not going to be summer forever. In my journey, I wasn't going to be in Korea for the rest of my life. I had to go back to New Zealand. And ultimately, if you have received Jesus in your life as your Lord and Savior, Earth is not our home. Heaven is. So, we shouldn’t really be getting comfortable where we are now.
Every time I start to get comfortable, God takes me out again and gives me another thing to do. Another mountain to climb. And it’s good! It’s good because this is how the Lord builds our faith in Him. This is one of His ways of building our trust in Him.
Men and women in the Bible have also gone through seasons. People like Joseph. God gave him a dream, and though the situations he faced seemed a bit discouraging, God, in His right time, fulfilled the dream He gave Joseph. People intended to harm Joseph, but God intended it all for good. He brought him to the position he was in so he could save the lives of many people (Read Genesis 37:50).
King David is another example. He was anointed to be king of Israel, but it took over 20 years for him to actually be king. In the meantime, he was faithful in his season of taking care of the sheep from lions and bears, obeying his dad’s command of bringing food to his brothers at the camp and eventually killing Goliath and serving King Saul in the palace as a musician.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Whatever season you and I are in right now, when it is all finished, we’ll see that it was not random. The plan I think is “good”, may not be the “good” the Lord is thinking of. We need to learn to trust a loving Father who knows what is best for us.
2. Dress and prepare appropriately for each season.
Boy, I tried wearing a sweater once in summer because I totally forgot to do the laundry and I had no choice but to wear that sweater in 30-degree weather. I struggled. Even the people who saw me wearing it were sweating.
When the Lord called me out of South Korea to go back to New Zealand, I wrestled with being IN New Zealand a hundred percent. I compared New Zealand ways to that of South Korea. “Everything is so expensive”, “This is too salty”, “It’s so boring”.
But just like wearing a sweater in summer, I cannot keep wearing my “South Korea sweater” in New Zealand. I need to change my mindset and my thinking. Not saying that I should completely forget everything about Korea and the friends I have made over there, but that I need to be open to possibilities and to what God may do through me and with me in New Zealand.
3. Each season brings new experiences. Be in the moment, enjoy and learn from them.
It's funny that when it's winter, we wish that it's summer. And when it's summer, we wish that it's winter. What irony!
Not that I have fully understood and accepted the season I am in now, but if I keep looking back at the past and do not give this new season a chance, I might miss out on something beautiful.
I ask God every single day to give me eyes to see the beauty of this particular season and what He may be teaching me now. If I hurry to the next season, I might miss out on some valuable learning that I'll need for the next.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
4. Ultimately, know that God is with you in every single season of your life.
I can testify to this that God has never left my side. Yes, there were times when I felt that He was not really that “present”. But in every single circumstance, challenge, conflict, heartache and every moment of every day, He has always been there with me. And that is His promise, that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).
What we know about Jesus influences how we live. Because I believe that God is good, it doesn’t matter if I am having a hard time right now- crying because I miss Korea and being tempted to think that God has taken it away from me. But even if He has, because I know that God is good, I can rest and have peace in my heart knowing that God is in full control of everything.
“The Lord invites us to His plan and it’s up to us whether we join Him in His wonderful plan.” The Lord INVITES us. Will we join Him? Will we say, “Yes”?
If we say No to Him, we are the ones who miss out on seeing His glory.
My time in South Korea is now up. Maybe just for now? Only God knows where I will be in the next couple of years. But for now, this is my God-given season. God knows what He wants me to do here.
As I write this entry, I am preaching to myself. I need to be in this season right now, and I need to fully trust in Him and fully surrender to His plan. I need to fix my eyes- not on the things that can be seen because those things are temporary. But I need to fix my eyes on Jesus, who is eternal. The feelings of sadness I am feeling now are nothing compared to the glory that the Lord has for me for all eternity.
I praise and thank the Lord again for what He has done in my life during my time in South Korea, and I look forward to what the Lord has in store for me this new season in New Zealand.
I want to end this blog entry with the words of the song I am loving right now entitled, “Though You Slay Me”:
“Though You slay me
Yet I will praise You
Though You take from me
I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who's all I need”
I pray that as you and I go through our God-given seasons that we’ll be able to experience and know God in ways we haven’t experienced and known Him before.
about the author
Naomi was born and raised in the Philippines, and moved to New Zealand with her family when she was 16 years old. At 22, she moved to South Korea and now back in New Zealand at 26. She likes cooking, singing, travelling and photography. She loves listening to people's stories, and has a heart for discipleship and seeing people grow in their walk with God.