It was the summer of 2006. I remember that I had had a fabulous day. I was in an upbeat mood, and was at a church function that night. Suddenly, and for no discernible reason, I felt emptied of most of my joy. Depressed and confused, I headed home, and I prayed on my way.
A vivid picture immediately came to me. Two bowls, one a small salad bowl was filled to the brim with lettuce, the other a much larger serving bowl had only a small amount of lettuce in the bottom of it. I was standing there, looking at these bowls, when I realized that Jesus was beside me. "Which of these bowls has more lettuce in it?" Jesus asked me.
Looking carefully, I realized something. "They both have the same amount," I replied.
"That's right," he said smiling. "But the little bowl is full. It can't hold any more. The large bowl may look like it only has a little in it, but it doesn't. It's the same amount. What it does have is room to hold more." Jesus looked me in the eye and said, "Your joy didn't go away. I just upgraded your salad bowl. You had become so full, I couldn't fit anymore in. And I want to give you more. So, I gave you a bigger bowl."
Last night, Mr. M. Roger Holland, II blessed me. It was Union Theological Seminary's annual Gospel Choir Concert, and Roger sang a solo. It was a song he learned for me; it was a song he sang to me. It is my Jesus song--the song Jesus uses to love me, to tell me who I am and what His love entails. It is the song Jesus gifted to me after I made some pretty significant mistakes at one point in my life. East to West, by Casting Crowns.
Roger told the story of learning, last semester, about my struggle to enjoy music. Ok--he actually learned how much I hated music at that particular time, but how there was one song that I sort of liked, maybe just a little, and to which I listened every six months or so. When I told Roger this story back in September/October, he determined then and there to learn this song and serenade me (anonymously) at the concert. He recruited Chantilly Mers for guitar and back-up vocals and Emily McNeill for cello. It was divinely beautiful.
One of the best parts of this is that on Wednesday this week, I had considered listening to East to West and heard Jesus say, "Not today. Now isn't the time." I had no idea the time would come just two days later--and in such a profound way.
Roger sang Jesus to me. Last night, Roger breathed, played, sang, lived Jesus to me. Last night, Jesus' heart and love for me was made manifest in Roger's gift. It was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. I am exceptionally well-loved. God has been so very good to me.
I have been so blessed to be here at UTS. My education here (very little of which was received in the classroom) has been transformative--changing my understanding of who God is, what God's heart is, who Jesus is, and who I am in Christ. My education has come in the Pit, the refectory, on the rooftop, at Broadway plays, in Ellen's Stardust Diner, in the embrace of my mentor, the loving arms of my friends, the conversations and creation of communal meals, the kitchens and the Quad, and in James Chapel--in the voice of a friend, serenading me. It was the voice of Jesus, singing to my heart.
This, more than anything, is how I know it's time to move on: My salad bowl is full. It is positively overflowing! I have been blessed more richly than I could ever have imagined, and have received more blessings than I can carry in my current bowl. I don't know where Jesus will take me next. I know that transitions are difficult for me--that I often feel as though my once overflowing bowl is now only half-full. But it's okay. I know what's going on. I've still got all of my blessings--I just have a much bigger bowl. Jesus wants to keep adding, and I need a bigger bowl to hold it all. Jesus is about to upgrade my salad bowl--I can feel it. And I can't wait!