This morning Anne began her message reflecting on how the Gospel passage seemed to have disjointed thoughts of Jesus lined up next to each other but that the actual function directed our attention to Jesus. Jesus matters most. Christ alone. Cornerstone.
We sang that song in the service today, and I was reflecting on the beautiful lyrics "When darkness seems to hide His face/ I rest on His unchanging grace/ In every high and stormy gale/ My anchor holds within the veil" through this afternoon. There was a lovely thunderstorm that woke me up with a boom and a flash at 6am. I love the God of the thunder who is the God of all grace. I always need my attention on Jesus who brings the rain when I wonder why I haven't learned how to walk just yet.
Yesterday, a coworker was joking about how easy it must be to get a certain teacher off task in a lesson. I admitted students can readily derail my plans, but joke's on them when I still get my objectives across with their deer trail. In fact, I brought up that deer trail example on Tuesday when I explained their suggestion to go around the room affirming each other was not a rabbit trail derailing my lesson but rather a deer trail that bounded into the heavens as we accomplished my objective of teaching them the steps of how reading the Bible changes us. First we John 13, then we find the universal truth to love each other, then we respond in real life and spend half the class giving affirmations to each other. No regrets.
This week had so many other things going on that don't need to be shared on the internet, but I do want to intentionally celebrate the moments where my attention went back to Jesus. The students affirming each other in class. The coworker who did untold healing of five years of trauma with a single email. The gathering of new friends at my table to stargaze and share life. The call with three alumni in a discipleship group to pray together. The texts from a different alum who wants to take his faith seriously (and asked for a signed copy of my theology text when it's available for purchase). The movements towards my theology textbook being available for purchase. The late night visit from Moe and Robbie that was their first stop in country. The other conversations with Moe and Robbie that get to take place this weekend. All these things are beautiful gifts that turn my attention back to the Cornerstone, to Jesus Christ who loves me and helps me to love others better.
My heart breaks over my peers or students who walked away from Jesus because they thought following Jesus was a bunch of rules with no fun. Let me tell you, I've had so many deep laughs and uplifting heart moments with other people this week because I chose to follow Jesus. Let's be clear, vodka ice cubes still aren't a thing, but shots near midnight or new wine as the thunderstorm rolls in are a kind of holy communion I consistently find within the Christian faith that I wouldn't trade for anything. These kind of people which my friend Greg Coles calls "camel friends" are the kind of people who make this weird expat missionary life possible. I'll always be down for Moe and Robbie climbing through my windows at all hours and talking about highs and lows in life. Also, huge shout out to Robbie for being my friend who was not raised steeped in Christian culture controversy who consistently laughs when he hears the things I deal with in my job and says, "Yeah, no, I've never heard anyone at all care about that."
Jesus is the cornerstone in my life. I don't have to get lost in the controversies, and by the grace of God, I have people in my life who journey with me and recognize Jesus as more important than silly interpretive nuances. Life is messy, but it's better with brownies and Jesus.