It was a May Term class. Models of Youth Ministry, I think it was called. There would be a small group of us, five guys and three girls, traveling around together with our professor and learning about different youth ministries. It sounded like fun and I was looking forward to it.Until our very first meeting, that is. I remember sitting there at a table in silence as the eight of us just sort of stared around the room. No one talking or joking or asking about majors or hometowns. Nope, we were just sitting there as if we were trying to see who could be the most boring.
I am not a shy person. I like people, I like conversations and connections. I remember thinking that this was going to be the worst class ever. A month-long awkward silence stuck in a van with people who didn't want to know me.
I was SO wrong.We had a wonderful time. It turned out to be one of my favorite classes ever. Now, when I think back on that class I smile. We had inside jokes and nicknames (for example, two of the guys called each other “Seth” and I'm still not sure anyone knows why) we found out about each other's lives and families. It was amazing. I would be thrilled to see those people today. And here I thought it was going to be a study in how not to have fun.
I was reminded of this special time in my life as I was reading Kay Warren's book about joy. She was talking about Jesus and his disciples and offered a perspective that we don't often think about: They were joyful. They had fun together. The Bible doesn't tell us that they had inside jokes or nicknames, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Their ministry wasn't only about duty. These men were friends. I know when I read the gospels I sort of imagine Jesus and the twelve saying things like, “Okay, gentlemen, this is the part where we're supposed to go to Samaria, because this is when Jesus talks to that woman at the well. We'll go get some food, like it says we're supposed to, and meet Jesus back at the well at one. Okay? Let's go.”
Of course it wasn't like that, but I can't be the only one who has overlooked this idea. I'm not trying to make the Bible say something it doesn't. I was encouraged by this perspective- thinking about the realness of Jesus. I assumed that my class was going to be dull and unfriendly, but it was a joy. I make assumptions when I read about Jesus, too. What a joy to think that He was and is not only Lord, but someone who laughs and enjoys. Jesus isn't just the One we go to with our hurts, but He wants to share in our happiness, too. What a joyous thing to think about.