Rachel Scott’s Reflection

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a planner. I always have been. My many Pinterest boards can show you that I’ve already planned in advance everything from the outfits I’ll wear for upcoming events, to how I want to decorate my college dorm room and future home. Now granted most of the effort put into this planning is wasted time, but it brings me comfort to know that I can control some portion of my future. I have lived with type one diabetes for over seven years now, and having to juggle the challenging unpredictability it brings, this little bit of control in planning some aspects of my life brings me comfort. I think we all have this aspiration in some way shape or form in our lives. We want so desperately to control what we can in life so that the outcomes can be exactly how we want it to be. This is somewhat human nature. Unfortunately, as we all know, life is never really that simple or straightforward. No amount of Pinterest boards that I create will ever be able to perfectly plan out what my life will hold. While the lack of control that I experienced with my diagnosis was initially confusing and difficult for me to accept, I abruptly came to the realization of what a blessing it actually is.

On December 26, 2009, I was a shy ten-year-old girl who had just been told that she had diabetes. I was scared and I really didn’t understand completely what was going on. All I knew is that I couldn’t go home and play with all the stuff I got for Christmas the day before. No, instead I had to stay in the hospital and learn how to count carbohydrates, calculate insulin dosages, prick my finger and give myself injections. On top of all that, I learned that unless they found a cure, all if this would never go away. Needless to say, this was definitely not a part of my plan. I don’t know what Pinterest board God got this one from, but all I knew was that I wanted it deleted. How could this possibly be what was supposed to happen to me? What have I done to deserve this? And, maybe even the more prominent question in my mind at the time, was the classic “why me?” Why me, God?

I think over the following months I wrestled with these questions and came to the conclusion that my diagnosis was not God testing my strength or ability, and it wasn’t God’s plan for me to suffer. My future was one that would have many twists and turns along the way and this was just one of them. As much as even my ten-year-old self would have loved to believe that my life would continue going straight along and “according to plan,” I felt so much relief in accepting that God’s plan was ultimately greater than mine.

It was through this realization, and as I continued to grow in my faith and in my trust in God throughout the following years, that I came to realize just how present God is and how completely God knows us. As we heard earlier, Psalm 139 says:

O LORD, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

There are so many situations that we all go through that make us question God’s presence and seek out our own plans instead. Whether it be asking the infamous “why me” question, a relationship, a loss, or simply when things don’t go as planned. At the end of the day I think that we would all love to say that sure, we trust that God’s plan for us is greater than our own. But truly giving your life up to God and entrusting in His care of it is extremely difficult. Living in the fast-paced, future-focused world that we do, this is much easier said than done. But I think what this Psalm offers us is the reassurance that God knows us completely loves us unconditionally and seeks us out every step of the way throughout the twists and turns of our own lives. Instead of striving to plan for things that are out of our control, we can rest in the knowledge that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a God who knows our hearts completely.

With that being said, in 159 days I will be moving into my dorm at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. I’ll be majoring in nursing and hopefully one day I can be the person to help a family through the challenges that come with the diagnosis of their child, just as my doctors and nurses were there for me when I was asking the “why me?” question. As a pediatric nurse, I want to be able to not only care for these kids medically, but also to be the person who can encourage them with the truth that suffering is not part of God’s plan, but that God is there with us through difficult times. Even if this plan to pursue a career in nursing does work out, I know that I will likely encounter struggles along the way and things that make me question what God has in store for me. There probably are going to be tests that I fail, clinical rotations I hate, and endless other challenges I’ll have to face throughout the process. BUT, I find comfort in knowing that God seeks us out and continues to work in our lives, even when our best human plans and Pinterest boards never come to reality.
So while I may not know exactly what my future holds, I do know who holds my future. And that’s good enough for me.

Emmie Berberick’s Reflection

In lacrosse, like many other sports, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed. In lacrosse, there is something called the “restraining line” and depending on if you are on offense or defense, you always have to have a certain number of players on one side of the line, otherwise your team will be called offsides and lose possession. I, being an attacker, am stuck on the side of the field before the restraining line. If I were to cross the restrainer, ultimately, I could be compromising my team’s possession of the ball; changing the whole dynamic of what were to happen otherwise. To an attacker, the restraining line is like an electric fence. No matter how well one might be defending, on a transition with the ball as soon as you hit that line, you don’t dare cross. This season, however, my coach has been encouraging us to cross the line if we think we will make a difference on the other side. After all, someone will always be there to have your back and make sure there is the required number of players before the restraining line.

In life, crossing the line is hard. You do not always know whether or not what you are doing will be the right thing, but if you don’t try you will never know. As humans, we fear judgement that could come from doing the wrong thing. To break boundaries and overcome fear, requires a lot trust in oneself and, most importantly, trust in God. Jesus, however, never had a problem crossing the boundaries set by the world. When looking at John 4, Jesus meets a woman at a well- nothing out of the ordinary for us. This well, however, was in the city of Samaria and this woman: a woman of Samaria. Samaritans and Jews did not associate with each other because of difference in beliefs. It was also considered inappropriate for a Jewish man, like Jesus, to talk to a woman in public like this. Therefore, by Jesus entering Samaria and approaching the women he was breaking boundaries and crossing the line. The story does not stop there though, this women, like us all had insecurities, and Jesus knew each of them.

Oftentimes, I allow myself to submit to my insecurities and allow that to ruin my day. Whether that be a result of an argument with someone I love or a day where it seems like I can not do anything right. Because of this, I always find myself seeking refuge in my Christian community and God.

This story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman teaches us how despite whatever demons we are struggling with, God knows them and doesn’t let them determine his feeling or love for us. No matter what, we are constantly being flooded with love from God and with love from the people that God has put in our lives. Therefore, when you are in a negative state of mind- it is important to reflect back on all your blessings. Similarly, it is important to recognize how others also struggle with their own demons, and sometimes it takes crossing a boundary to reach someone who needs a little light. Just like in lacrosse, God has our backs just like my team does when I cross the line. Jesus crosses line consistently throughout his journey and in this one in particular. Jesus uses the women’s vulnerabilities, the fact she has had five husbands, to reach her and this resulted in her spreading the word that Jesus was the Savior they’d all been hoping for. Therefore, this story acts as a call for us to cross boundaries in order to spread the light.

Nicholas Leckband‘s Reflection

A big part of growing up is dealing with the trials and tribulations. Emotions are what make us human after all, and for every happy and exciting moment there is another when we feel broken, lost, or just plain bad. This might make you wonder if emotions can be so strong and unpredictable, then why did God give them to us to begin with? Why can’t we all just be happy? Growing up I definitely wondered why God would let me feel terrible and if he loved me and had a plan for me. Why would God want me to suffer? However, God does give us an answer in 2nd Corinthians, when humans are compared to clay jars. Like clay jars we are beautiful, complex, holy and unique, but God also made us fragile. Not fragile as in weak but as the scripture says “persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed.” Through scripture we are told that these emotions and troubling situations are just a part of being human and just as God made us to be. We are not perfect, and we are very vulnerable to pain and suffering but this just proves we are human. It also proves we need God’s power and grace to sustain our lives because we can’t do it on our own.

Even when we feel these emotions we can still shine God’s light not only on ourselves but onto others, because the power to do so does not come from us, it comes from God. Even though my story may not be a large emotional journey where I travel to a distant land and slay a monster like in a Hollywood movie, my life has taken me through small personal struggles to find what God was leading me towards.

Ever since I was a kid, I watched a lot of movies. My memory of Friday nights were of me and my family on the couch watching a movie, and when I was younger I had a problem with talking through movies. I wasn’t saying nonsensical stuff in my outbursts, I was finding plot holes, predicting outcomes, and speaking out when characters made a decision which made no sense. So, when I saw a movie where I couldn’t find anything bad, I was mesmerized. It was because of all these memories that movies have always helped me relax in good times and the bad. I watched them so I could think of something else at least for a while. I know now that God gave me the mind of a movie critic when I was a kid so I could have this relaxed feeling.

Fast forward to Freshman year of High School. I was, in the simplest terms: lost. Interesting career paths came up and were quickly dropped because I was interested in lots of subjects but never liked focusing on just one of them. I was stressed and confused, so I watched to movies to help keep myself calm and give me a break. It was in these moments I finally realized what God was dangling right before my eyes. “Hey Nick be a part of filmmaking!” It made perfect sense! I liked working in groups to create something I can be proud of. I liked thinking of stories and characters and obstacles for those characters to overcome. So that’s what I want to do. I finally got the memo to make movies.

By sharing my story with you, my hope is that we can all see how God shapes us like clay pots to deal with life’s challenges. Everyone has a different passion, just as no clay pots are the same. God can’t control everything but he gives us the tools and the faith we need to get through the difficult times so we an shine his light through our passions and onto others. People say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. While this is true in certain aspects, no job can be perfect and there will always be things you don’t want to do, but if you love most of it the most difficult parts of work don’t seem as bad anymore.

This relates to life in general, God gives us a passion so the bad times don’t seem so bad. We all live our lives learning and growing not just in Christ but as people. Like clay pots we may not last forever, but our experiences are never forgotten. Our clay is used to make the next batch of pots or in other terms the next generation. And it doesn’t stop there, our passions and experiences are not just for our families but for people we haven’t met or may never meet. The scripture says that we are the vessels to show the way of God to others, and this is what I find the most interesting. God uses our passions to show and spread his light, because he knows that everyone is different. Some people may not be able to sit down and read the Bible everyday and others may not even be able to get to church every week. Does this make them bad people? Of course not, because God shows these people the light in different ways and helps them shine light in unique ways. An elementary schooler might let someone else sit on the bus next to them and create a lifelong friendship. Members of this congregation who might not be able to join us here in the sanctuary still shine the light, they share words of wisdom and encouragement. A college student who might be too busy to attend church might help classmates with difficult classes.

So how does the light of Christ shine elsewhere in the world? You can probably guess what God uses to spread the light, US. In places where terror and oppression are common aspects of life, in places where people are barely able to live day by day. What do you see? Do you see people sitting around in their own self pity? Do you see ungrateful, selfish people not caring about anything? No! You see people whose passions are used to help people even if it endangers themselves. You see people who are given hope in places where hope is hard to come by. We are all molded by God to have a passion and God uses us to spread his word. We see an example of this in John with the Samaritan woman who Jesus came across. Her interaction with him created a passion, a passion to tell others that he is the Savior no matter the consequences she might face. In my life I see God guiding me to make movies not only to entertain, but to help spread awareness on difficult topics. Someday I hope to share God’s light this way through my passion. I also see God guiding all of you and all of my fellow seniors to use your passions and use your experiences to teach not only others but the next generations.

I’ll leave you with this: We all deal with trials and tribulations; we may doubt or disagree with the way God made us; we may encounter barriers that separate us from people who we can receive love and learn from; we may feel broken or lost as we go through life but God molds us throughout our lives and through our struggles to help us to grow- to grow in faith, to grow in knowledge, and to grow as people. So as we all walk in faith, let’s all find a way to shine the light.

Rachel Scott
Emmie Berberick
Nicholas Leckband
Decatur Presbyterian Church
Decatur, GA
March 19, 2017