Each year, in the dead of winter, I make an annual pilgrimage to Michigan to attend a great worship symposium at Calvin College.
At this point, you might question my sanity – to go to Michigan during the freeze-you- keester-off time if year. I enjoy the respite from the Houston humidity. I figure I can deal with a little cold. After all, to attend the best symposium on worship, one must put up with some inconveniences.
This means a plane ride.
Today, as I entered the plane, I saw that I was going to be sitting in the student section – a contingency of Calvin College students as God would have it.
Oh great, all I wanted was a quiet flight to do my Bible in 90 Days reading, relax with my iPhone, and be calm. Now, it looks like I’m going to have more than just the weather as an inconvenience.
Just a quiet flight, that’s all I want. Hear my prayer, O God.
As I sit down, the plane wreaks of sweaty, unbathed 20 year olds. Great, now, an aroma is going to be my traveling companion. AND, I’m next to the bathroom at the back of the plane. Geez.
All I want is a smell-free journey. Can I have a little peace? After all, I do this so I can serve you better. Hear my prayer, O God.
Not wanting to be rude, I sit down, ask names I won’t remember, introduce myself, blah, blah, blah.
O, let me just get my headphones on! Hear my prayer, O God.
OK, so I have to ask these kids about their majors. I can’t be rude. Make it short. Hear my prayer, O God.
It is Betsy’s dream to be a Pediatric Dentist. She is a sophomore. I tell her that she will make money. She laughs. She tells me that she wants to make enough so that she can create mission trips to other countries and offer care to children. She wants to fund them all herself. It’s her passion.
Tom is a senior. He is majoring in Bio-science. He dreams of being a Physicians Assistant. I ask if he has an idea what area of medicine he wishes to do. Be tells me that he is a patient care provider at a psyche hospital. (Ever been to a psyche ward?!?) He found that when he works with those with mental disorders, he knows he has found his calling.
The others have equally compelling stories. Alright God, you have my attention. But why are they on this flight?
They are all on a Spanish class trip to Nicaragua to immerse themselves in the culture and learn Spanish. The went to stay for two weeks with no running water, no electricity, bucket showers, wash in a river, and food they don’t care to recognize. They stayed in local homes and interacted completely with their families. Hear this – they chose to do this and paid their own way.
They ask me where I’m from and what I do? A discussion ensues. For the next 45 minutes I sit at the feet of the kids and learn what it is to be 20 and come to know Christ at 14. I sit at the feet of these young men and women and learn what it is like to be 20 and find a church home. I sit at the feet of a 19 year old and learn how they practice their faith.
I guess my time for learning about worship begins a bit early.
Teach me your ways, even if it is at 35,000 feet. Hear my prayer, O God.
We spend many minutes talking of Mars Hill church, where they attend, their faith journey, and what aspects of worship connect them with the Holy. They are hungry to know God and what they have never learned because they didn’t grow up in church.
As we begin our descent, the conversations have turned to the usual things – Michigan summers, hair products, shoveling snow, and the schedule for their classes and part time jobs. It is noisy – but a joyful noise.
I think that noise is what the scriptures speak of – “the music of the spheres. It’s a noise of lives being changed. And, it’s traveling to God’s ears. And, it is good and God is pleased.
I think the aroma is the one spoken of in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The aroma of young Christians taking the Gospel to those who live in a foreign land. This is an aroma that is pleasing to God.
Inconvenience me, O Lord. Shake me from my iPod. Open my eyes to your teachings. Speak, O Lord, for your servant is listening. Amen.