From July 1995 to July 1997, my husband’s job took our family to live in southern Spain while he was working on a special assignment. More than once during our second year of living there, I vividly remember telling my husband that a two-year stay was the perfect amount of time for us to be there. During the first year, we stayed busy trying to squeeze in all of the things and go to all of the places that tourists might typically want to do and see. Though we loved every moment of the travel opportunities that we had that year, the second year was even more advantageous. That second year gave us opportunities, time and again, to see and do a variety of things that enhanced our understanding of the Spanish people and culture, adding to all that we had learned and seen during the first year of our time together. In effect, our second year in Spain was, for us, a second-time-around opportunity that has no equal.
In general, a “second-time-around” event is one that is similar in substance to a previously experienced event; while, at the same time, sufficiently different enough to be considered a separate learning opportunity. It is not a repetitive experience but an additional experience, allowing for additional learning that provides an opportunity for expansion of our knowledge and understanding of whatever the subject matter may be at hand. In knowing that God’s timing in every situation is impeccable (faultless, perfect), we should also realize that God does not open doors of opportunity in our lives until we are thoroughly prepared by Him to meet the challenges that accompany those opportunities as He makes them available to us. So it is with second-time-around opportunities.
The opportunity that we are being offered in this case is not to learn about another nation of people here on earth, but about our God and His relationships with all of His people, who will be living with Him in His Kingdom forever. The two stories that are inter-related are The Lesson of the Thanksgiving and Leftovers That Aren’t. In reading the stories, look first for the commonalities of the events being discussed. Then take a good look at the specifics to see how God may be revealing more about Himself in the two events taken together than we may be able to see and learn in the two events individually.