Last night I made a decision to cheat- on my sabbatical. Though I’ve been given a year for academic leave, rest and reflection to hopefully help me continue a long career with InterVarsity, I’m beginning to feel a bit antsy. On Wednesday Dave asked me if I’d be willing to help him teach on Ephesians 5 at the weekly student gathering at Case Western. For those of you not familiar with Ephesians 5- it contains some of the most controversial and misused scripture in the New Testament- “wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives.” He thought it would be a good idea for both of us to teach on this subject to hopefully demonstrate how this can actually look healthy in a marriage and how the scripture has been misused.
At first I was hesitant. “I am on sabbtical after all- I should be resting.” Resting as of late has been really difficult for me. I find that I enjoy life much more when I’m moving at a faster pace, am stimulated by new ideas and have a chance to put those ideas into practice. I finally agreed to team teach with him, but then tried to bail out twice. I was also pretty afraid that I’d lost my speaker mojo somehow, that it would be terrible and would confirm that I should just stay home and twiddle my thumbs feeling bored instead of going back to work in January.
The great thing was I was reminded that when I’m obedient to use all of who Jesus has made me to be; a woman, wife, mother, evangelist- he shows up. Not only to bless me, but to bless others. Getting up in front of those students to help them understand scripture and “live as a community of love” as we challenged them to do, felt AWESOME! It felt a little like getting back on a bike- a really sweet BMX bike that I could do killer tricks with. Jesus reminded me that all I need to do is show up and be willing to let him speak to others through me- and he does amazing things.
I’d like to write a whole other post on what we shared- our opening question was “what was your earliest memory of gender?” “how does the word submit make you feel?” But I’ll save that for another day….
After the meeting, I was milling around chatting with students when an Asian woman named Gina* approached me. After a bit of small talk about how it was her first time at an InterVarsity meeting she begin to share- “what you said tonight made a lot of sense, I could really connect with it. I’ve been feeling so lost in life and even though I wear a cross and know about Jesus, I really want to feel like I have a connection with him every day. Can you tell me how I can have that?” At this point, I think my jaw dropped as I sent up a quick prayer. “yeah, I’d love to talk about that” as I motioned for us to sit down on the dorm style couches in the meeting room. As Gina shared about some of her struggles and longing to connect with God, my heart was filled with thankfulness that Jesus was giving me the gift of being able to help guide someone into a relationship with him. Gina and I prayed for Jesus to be the leader of her life- to help her know how to live in the way of love and to be part of a community that would help her to do that. The coolest thing was that her R.A., Anna was there with her. After we prayed, she introduced me to her R.A. and shared about the decision she had made. “Oh that’s so cool”, said Anna, you are one of the people I’ve been praying for to come to InterVarsity! Yeah, we can totally talk more about connecting with God daily.”
As Dave and I grabbed our laptop bags and headed out into the rainy night, I was elated. Not only did it feel so right to “cheat” on my sabbatical and do what I normally do for work, Jesus gave me an opportunity to do one of the things that brings me the most joy and purpose in life- helping others to know who he is and how he can lead their lives. It was a great reminder of what we had shared that night- “make the most of everyday” because each day is a gift for us to make a difference in the lives of those around us.
*name changed for privacy.