Friday afternoon, my last day in Allendale ... the work was finally done. All that stood between me and South Bend was an 18-hour drive with a bunch of teenagers, the last three hours of which would be in the formidable 15-passenger Preuss van. I was nervous about the upcoming drive, kind of brain-dead from the last two weeks of work, but quietly delighted to know that I would soon be back home living my normal life.
The afternoon and evening passed pleasantly: I watched people play Kubb and volleyball, I had dinner with Karen and Mary Beth and MB's husband and daughter, I sang loudly in an empty house while doing dishes, Hannah's lovely voice joined in my song for a bit, and I just reveled in the feeling that I was almost done and almost home. Do you see a theme here? I could not wait to go back home. I'd had some fun moments, some good conversations, got to meet a lot of great people, but the only word for the trip was hard. It had been a hard two weeks.
The evening session began with some words about taking responsibility for your own life, and then Nathan talked to us about choosing to intend to follow Jesus. (The reason for the strange language there is that the only choice we can make is in the present. I can choose to follow Jesus now. I can't choose now to follow him next Thursday - that choice comes next Thursday. But I can choose now to intend to follow Jesus the rest of my life.) We were asked to go find a quiet place alone for fifteen minutes to make that choice.
I'd made that choice a long time ago, maybe not in so many words, but I sat down at the bottom of some back porch steps just to pray for a few minutes. The Lord felt really present so I spoke directly to him. I haven't done a very good job following you these past two weeks, I told him.
You did fine, I know, I was there with you.
I know you were there but I didn't call on you enough.
You called on me a lot actually.
But I kept failing, Lord! I ought to have been more cheerful and less discouraged and a better role model for the teens. And I ought to have built more relationships with the teens and talked with them more.
You did great. You tried. And when you failed you tried again. And when you failed again you tried again. That is humanity.
Thanks be to God.