One of the best parts of teaching at the school where I work is that our students regularly lead us in worship. And our praise band is “if they cut a record I’d buy it” good.
They are talented, but they are also so honest in their walks with the Lord. I spend enough time with them each week to know their hearts. I see them worship with abandon and then get snippy with a friend or parent. I know they’re fallen and fallible. And they know it, too, which is one reason I love them so much.
Tonight was Awards Night, and our praise band and chorale led us in a time of worship. We sang Chris Tomlin’s song “I Lay Me Down,” and when we got to the bridge, the student leading closed her eyes, raised her hands, and proclaimed, “This is my favorite part of the song,” before singing the statement, “It will be my joy to say Your will, Your way, always.”
Immediately my heart responded, “Always?” I realized that so much of my silence, my frustration of the last two years has been that it has not been my joy to say, “Your will, your way.” Not at all.
This time six years ago, I was working at the YMCA in Wake Forest, NC, interviewing to teach history at an English speaking international school in Kabul, Afghanistan. I was chasing my dream: Bekah Mason, world traveler for Jesus.
Four weeks later I was living with my parents, back home in Chattanooga. No job, no degree, no globetrotting.
It was not my joy to say, “Your will, your way, always.”
It was not my joy when a counseling position I was developing for a ministry with a local office didn’t receive needed funding and was eliminated.
It was my joy to receive a phone call about a long term sub position to finish the school year at a local Christian school.
It was my joy because I had always wanted to teach there, AND it was for the remainder of the 2009-2010 school year, after which I intended to move to Louisville, KY, and begin my PhD. My plan, my joy.
Six years later, through changes in departments, internships, starting and failing that PhD, coaching, learning, and loving, it has become my joy to be here still. Not my plan, but still my joy.
I am reminded of the man in Mark 5 whom Jesus delivered from the legion of demons. The text says that the man was imploring Him that he might accompany Him. And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.”
Go home to your people. For those of us with a wanderlust that is often unquenchable, there is no joy in Jesus telling us to go home.
I love the travel, the short term, the excitement of new places and people and challenges. But my life is not about me, and in these last six years, I have learned one valuable thing about myself: to stay is to be known, and being known is a hard part of sanctification. Being known means tears and vulnerability, it means people knowing your weaknesses. Being known can be terrifying, but to be useful in community, we must be known.
The girl who moved to seminary nine years ago with plans of never coming home has ended up back in the same zip code her family has lived in for 21 years. I live in my grandmother’s house, teach at the school my sister attended, have the children of my friends in my clasess, and it is my joy.
So is it my joy to say, “Your will, your way, always” in my heart? I’m still not there. But He is. Through the urges to run away, to self-destruct, to doubt and question and second guess. HE is always, and He is enough to bridge that gap on the days that I haven’t quite found my joy.
Because, you see, He is my joy, and He always finds me.
Beauty. Pure beauty.