Sometimes things happen that cause you to stop and think, “how did I get here?”.
This morning I was singing worship music and playing with my son when a song came on that I had prayerfully sung in his room several times before he was born. “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the water wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior” (Oceans, Hillsong United). I meant it when I prayed those words, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into by asking for my trust to be borderless and to be taken deeper than my feet could ever wander on their own. At the time, I had no idea that my son wouldn’t be breathing when he was born and that he would suffer a brain injury that would cause cerebral palsy and infantile spasms. God certainly answered my prayer. I could never have wandered here. That’s the thing about being an apprentice- you don’t always understand what the master is doing, but you trust him because of who he is…the master craftsman.
Reliving J’s birth and all the hardships we’ve faced over the last year and a half in my head brought me back to the day I chose to start a relationship with Jesus in the first place. I was December 2004 and I was 12 years old. There was nothing spectacular about that day. It was a normal Sunday with a regular sermon. There is no fantastic rock bottom story. I just knew I was missing something and that I saw that thing in the people around me in those pews. I was desperate to have what they did: Joy and love.
I was in a broken family with no father to tell me of my worth. My mom and step dad had somewhat recently been through a rough divorce so I had been around nightly yelling matches and the occasional fist fight for way too long. Even after their divorce I was alone a lot. My mom and brother both have ADHD and strong personalities with short tempers, which is the opposite of me, so I was a bit of a misunderstood outcast in my home. My brother mostly played video games on his own and we had moved away from all of my friends during the summer between elementary and middle school, which is apparently when everyone decides which friends will make them cooler in their new school. Since I moved to a mobile home park and didn’t join the cheerleading squad, I lost a lot of my friends.
There was so much instability and distrust in my life at the crucial crossroads called puberty. I no longer trusted anyone and was terrified of being dependent on anything. I was broken, hurting and afraid. But I needed hope, love, and something solid to support me. That’s exactly what Jesus offers and more. I had a long road of learning ahead of me, but Jesus is infinitely patient.
No journey is easy all of the time, but with Jesus leading and teaching me I have finally had the things I’ve needed the most for so long-stability and love. When things go wrong (and trust me they have) he has always surprised us with his provision- money from a unexpected source, a job offer at the perfect time, a treatment that wasn’t available just 6 months sooner. As an apprentice, I mess up a lot. I forget that I’m loved and I’m still not sure how to show love to others. I treat God like a fairy godmother who will grant my wishes if I’m a good girl. That’s how our world works, but that’s not how God works. Grace means that we get blessings even when we mess up. What it doesn’t mean is that life will be perfect-I’m proof of that. We still live on earth, so trouble will still come our way. But each day, whether good or bad, I have to try to learn just one more lesson. I have to take each day, each decision one step at a time. I’m learning to become a bit more loving, hopeful, patient, kind, gentle, accepting, forgiving, etc, one step at a time.
I have a really hard time with imperfection. The apprentice longs to be like the master-maybe even better. My master craftsman is the ultimate picture of perfection. My goal is to be a little more like Jesus every day. Many days I fail at that and begin to sink into the waves that crash around me. Thankfully, God has never left my side. He offers his hand for me to take for rescue but I have to decide to take it. He has never stopped supporting me, guiding me, protecting me, or teaching me, even when I have tried to ignore him or run away to do things my own way.
It’s hard to admit that we need someone or something. We’re living in a culture where we’re taught to focus on ourselves and on being independent. But humans were made for relationships and I believe that every one of our longings are, at their core, a longing for God. His hand reaches out to you, too. Will you take it? We are all an apprentice to someone. Who will you chose as your teacher?
“I’m hard headed, I’m stubborn, I’m stuck in my ways. Still learning what it means to hit my knees and pray. But I’m on my way” (On My Way, Hayden Panettiere, Nashville).