While Jesus was having dinner . . . many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. (Mark 2:15)

I wanted to be anywhere but there. The individuals weren’t my usual group of friends with whom I was comfortable. Yet as my time with these people continued, I found enjoyment starting to mix with my discomfort. I left thinking that I actually had fun.

Several days later, as I talked with one of my new friends, I realized just how much both of us had needed the time together—to develop our new friendship as well as our faith walk with God, allowing us to move even closer to Him.

Sometimes it takes a while for us to look back on an event and see the benefits of sticking with an uncomfortable situation. When we begin to grasp how these times have impacted us, how we’ve changed and grown, we likewise begin to appreciate the significance of what we’ve been through.

The people who ate dinner with Jesus probably didn’t understand the importance of their meal and the interaction they had with Him until later in their lives. Where other religious people had cast them aside, Jesus showed these “sinners” that they had value and significance to Him.

We don’t know what may come from our encounters or conversations. We must make the most of every situation so we are not caught unaware, but are always ready to engage with anyone whom God brings our way.

Identify at least one thing you are doing to be intentionally aware in situations God has placed you.

Traver Paul Butcher, a PhD candidate in International Psychology, has a passion for helping individuals encounter God in cross-cultural experiences.