It has been my experience that God saves difficult lessons for those who think they have everything figured out. These lessons don’t surface as sand-in-the-face clichés, but the nudges of a caring father; pushing his children in the right direction. However, God isn’t above the occasional slap in the face. I know; I bear the stripes to prove it.
As a member of Shrine High School’s music department, I am a three year veteran of concerts, choir rooms and Saturday afternoon car washes. For enrichment, it has been a tradition to offer an overnight trip to all participating students. These trips involve clinics with music majors, backstage tours of Broadway shows, and dinners at jazz clubs. It was in B.B. King’s Jazz Club that God decided to teach me.
As directors shouted for us to pile off the bus, I slowly began to make my way towards the front of the line. My freshman “choir buddy” nipped at my heels through the crowd. “Have you ever been to one of these?” I didn’t answer. It was my plan to make several U-turns in my relationships with others; namely, those on the top of Shrine’s social food chain. With success in my grasp, I felt like this was the opportunity to break the poetically pathetic shell I had been accustomed to wearing. I had grown tired of baby sitting the skittish freshman now standing next to me; after all, this was my trip, not his. As we entered our dining room, something cruel lead me away from the freshman table towards one of the senior tables.
I pulled my chair out and looked at all the faces seated around me. However, I quickly became aware that their faces, as the well as the conversation, were directed away from me. Whether they meant to or not, I grew anxious. Finally, a break in the chatter came, and I saw my chance. Looking straight at Shrine’s leading thespian, I gave my best effort to keep up with his volley of jokes. After a split second, he began to laugh. It wasn’t the honest laughter which had been circulating around the table, but one of patronization; given because people are watching. As the rest of the table picked up with him, I silently stood up and walked out.
While the rest of the trip passed uneventfully, there is one thing I took from the Big Apple. In that moment, I saw God laughing at me. His laughter is not the patronizing laughter of apathetic peers, but its potency remains. And with that potency, there is always a direction; an inner compass; guiding us to our final destination. In the times I have gone against this compass; placing myself before others, God has always called me back; saying, “This isn’t who you should be.” Sometimes this call is easy to heed; sometimes it isn’t. One thing remains true; a man will plant his steps, but the Lord secures them. This I believe.