Hello! My name is Taylor Johnson, and I am one of the 2017 deputees. In less than 12 hours, I will be at the airport with my team to spend the next 8-weeks of my summer in Montenegro. Throughout the entire deputation process I’ve been continuously asked: “How are you preparing for this?” “Aren’t you scared?” “What if it’s not everything that you’re expecting?” and that’s why I’m writing this blog post, to address these questions, and to specifically focus on how I have been preparing for deputation.
Truthfully, I love when people ask me the questions I stated above, because not even a year ago, I thought exactly the same way they did. I felt this constant need to have control and order, and I needed to always know what was going to happen and when. Well, I have discovered this need for control and order comes from not fully trusting God in all aspects of my life. Making the decision to go on Deputation, was also me making the decision to give all trust to God in all aspects of my life.
So, how have I been preparing for this trip? By trusting in God every step of the way. By trusting in God, I see that as me having complete faith in God. My favorite verse in the Bible is Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (NIV). Deputation is giving me the opportunity to finally live out the truth of this verse. I may not have all the answers to everything as I get ready to board this plane in a short, twelve hours, but I have faith that God has me going on this trip for a reason. I may not know what the reason is yet, but I feel Him calling me to this, and hearing Him calling me to serve this summer is all I need to know this is the right choice for me.
So, am I scared? No, because I have faith that God has a plan in store for me greater than anything I could ever imagine. Am I scared my expectations aren’t going to be met? No, because I don’t have any expectations. The only thing I expect to do is go and serve the Lord for the next 8-weeks, other than that, I am leaving the adventure and experience to God. The only way to truly prepare for this trip is to understand that you don’t have control. God has the control. When I understood this, a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders, and I have been able to grow in relationship with God and to hear His voice more clearly. As I finish typing this post, and add last-minute items to my suitcase I feel an overwhelming sense of peace. I am finally walking by faith, and it is such a beautiful thing, indeed.
I know many people with very strong opinions about when you can and can’t play Christmas music. Most of the debate rages over “How early is too early?” Must one really wait until after Thanksgiving? Regardless of where you stand on that dilemma, most likely you stop listening to it on December 26, unless you are really into Christmas music. So, apologies if you’re appalled by a January 2nd posting. However, we still have four days in the twelve days of Christmas that lead up to Epiphany. (If you thought the 12 days of Christmas were a countdown of how many shopping days you have left, click the link and learn about the tradition of Christmastide.) This is still a season of adoring Jesus in a manger…
And, as the Inn starts, I have one more reflection as we gaze upon this child. Unfortunately, the reflection surrounds what is honestly one of my least favorite Christmas songs:
This is called the “perfect version,” so I had to share. I think this song usually just wears me out with the repetitive “Pa rum pa pum pum” -ness of it all. It’s almost as bad as fa la la la la la la la la la la la la la or whatever. But, I have to admit that something about the non drumbeat lyrics struck me upon a recent hearing of the song.
Little Drummer Boy (henceforth LDB) is not a song you will sing in church and it tells the story of a little boy’s journey to see the baby Jesus. To be clear, this is also not a story you read about in the Bible. The protagonist of the song, though, teaches us a valuable lesson that is mostly in these lines (drumbeats omitted):
I have no gift to bring,
That’s fit to give a King…
Shall I play for You,
On my drum?
Looking around, LDB must have seen the gifts the wise men brought and felt the same way you and I feel when we arrive at a party empty-handed when everyone else brought something for the host/hostess.
How often do you long to be faithful, long to approach Jesus — gaze upon Him — and yet feel unworthy to do so… What do *I* have to offer Jesus, after all? The answer we learn from this song, whether we like the tune of it or not, is simply this: whatever we have. Jesus is not asking You to bring something to the table you don’t have — in the case of LDB, he didn’t need to find some gold or myrrh to approach Jesus. In our case, we don’t have to be someone we’re not, comparing ourselves and our gifts to others. Instead, Jesus just asks us to bring what we have, with open hands, and to bless him with it.
Tomorrow night (1/3), we start a new series at the Inn, I Become, which centers on our transformation when we’re in relationship with Jesus. I hope this song is a reminder to us that the journey of transformation starts wherever we are, whoever we are now. The important action we must take is to bring ourselves to Jesus first.
Becky R, UMin Executive Assistant