Be Ye Doers of the Word and Not Hearers Only Start Doing

Epiphany 6 – Year B

(Elizabeth Rumble)
If I had a dollar for every time topic of college was brought up in my household this year, calling me “filthy rich” would even be an understatement. I am in my senior year of high school, a time I never thought would come. The college application process was one of the most stressful things I have ever gone through. College counseling meetings, filling out the tedious application, editing essays for the Art Supplement, and putting together a DVD of my best work in the performing arts are only some of the things I have done to get myself in. But is that enough? Oh no! With the help of my parents, I have created a resume and portfolio of everything I have ever done… ever. The only thing missing from the list is that one time, eighteen years ago, when I was born. My acting career started in the third grade, and so begins the resume. I cannot express how much I appreciate everything my parents have done to help me get into college. However as April 1st creeps up on me, I have very mixed feelings about whether or not my performing arts career will be enough.

For one school, it was enough. I am ecstatic about having been accepted there and thrilled to know that I have the opportunity to go to a place that I would love to attend. But ever since I was little, the only college I knew anything about was my current top choice that I have not gotten into yet. Every time someone asks where I am going next year, I say, “I got into this great school, so I’ll probably go there! … Unless by some miracle of God I get into my top choice.” Every time I go and visit, I fall in love with the school more and more. The only hard thing about visiting is the stress I feel on the drive home. This question constantly lingers in my mind: “Is there even the slightest chance that I can get in?” I have a hard time coping with the fact that there is a slim chance, in my opinion, that it will happen for me. On April 1st I will know the answer to this question. Until then, I am constantly thinking about doing everything I possibly can to catch the eye of the admissions office.

I do believe in myself and I know that the time and effort my parents and I have put in to my application will definitely make a difference. However when it comes down to it, the only man capable of getting me in is that guy (point up), God. Like the leper in the Old Testament reading from today, I feel like it is necessary to go to the extreme in order to be relieved. When the Lord tells Naaman, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean” Naaman became angry. Surely getting rid of leprosy could not be that simple.

Why is it that some people have such a hard time simply having faith in God, myself included? Naaman’s cure for leprosy was an easy task, but his initial reaction was frustration. How can something that seems so complicated have such an easy solution? This applies to my life as well. I have no control over whether or not the admissions office thinks I write a perfect essay. I have no idea whether or not the theatre department will look at my DVD of performances and think I have potential. The only thing I can do right now, at this point, is have faith in God. If I am meant to go to my top choice, I will there this time next year. I cannot begin to express the nerves I will have on April 1st. My stomach gets butterflies now just thinking about it. I know I cannot travel to the Jordan River, immerse myself seven times, and then receive an acceptance letter. However until April, I am trying to relax and recognize that the final decision is in the hands of the admissions office. I trust that God will lead me down the right path. To quote Mark 14:36, Jesus said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” It is not about how badly I want my top choice. It is about where I am meant to be for the next four years of my life. Where ever I land, I trust that God will have led me to the right place.

(Parks Daniel)

Throughout my 4 years of high school, science has given me trouble. This year, I am taking Honors Physics with Dr. C, and it is my hardest class. Don’t get me wrong, I love the teacher. She is the picture of a brilliant nerd, messy hair and glasses included, who is extremely passionate about her subject. She can derive any equation and explain any phenomenon. Unfortunately, her explanations usually go straight over my head.

I needed help, so I went to my friend Tyler, who took the class last year. He told me that the only way to get through that class was to memorize equations and problems. It was so simple, (pause) too simple. I did not want to listen to him because for me, understanding is everything. I did not want the easy way out. I wanted to know why gravity went one way and acceleration went the other. I couldn’t just base it on a formula. So for the first couple of months, I tried very hard to understand what Dr. C was saying. I took concise notes, in addition to the notes she had already printed out, and memorized every definition. I still had no clue what was going on.

After weeks of hard work, and no results, I decided it was time for a new approach. I stopped trying to explain why up is up and down is down and took Tyler’s advice. I memorized equations and plugged in numbers. Like magic, the red marks on my tests grew smaller and smaller.

Naaman goes through a similar ordeal. He does not believe that the cure for his leprosy can be as easy as washing in the river Jordan. Bathing is such a regular thing, not requiring any extra effort on Naaman’s part. Can the answer honestly be that simple? He does not think so, but after his servants encourage him to try, he bathes in the Jordan. Like the red marks on my paper, the marks on Naaman’s body begin to disappear. That day, Naaman learns to have faith.

Like Naaman, I had a hard time believing that Tyler’s way would work for me. Despite the fact that I trust him, plugging in numbers seemed too easy. He was telling me that I had to throw all of my instincts out and stop trying to work so hard. When I finally gave in and listened, the results convinced me to have faith in his words.

I don’t know if it is because of my age or based on experience, but I have had a hard time with trust: in God, in people, in general. I believe that I create the direction of my own fate, and relying on anyone else is asking for a letdown. Putting my well being in somebody else’s hands is too risky.

So how does that affect my relationship with God? For awhile, I did not have the answer to that question. I was getting by without asking questions. I started going to church because it was what good Christian children did. I kept going to church because it was where I was able to express myself through singing. It was not until a couple of months ago that I started going to church to get something out of it. Now I am learning to have faith in God and trust that his way is the right way, even though that path can be the hardest.

Once again, I will refer to my school curriculum. After physics with Dr. C, I go straight to Philosophy of Religion. Initially I was annoyed with the class because of the amount of reading and journal writing required each week. I had only signed up for this class because it is required to graduate. But as I started to respond to the articles I read, I became more and more aware of my faith. I was talking about it, sharing my ideas and morals. At the same time, I was exploring my relationship with God. What I have learned is that I trust God very much, even if the trust occasionally waivers. We all have that moment; that time when we try to fight the obvious path that God has lain out. Jesus wrestled with that tension every day- should he help the prisoners and lepers, doing God’s will but going against the social norm? It must have been hard to accept that that was God’s way. But once he did, leading a life of faith became simpler.

I trust God to lead me to the right end. Sometimes that is not true – I try too hard to control my fate, not accepting the easy way. Learning to trust God is the hard part. Once we’ve done that, trusting God is easy. Many of us try to make that harder than necessary. But have faith, and he will make the red marks disappear.