The day of the GBU Student Gathering (“Festa GBU”) had arrived.
The preparations to bring along the whole family and the expectations of having my husband and children enjoy the special atmosphere of the “Festa” with GBU groups from all over Italy fell through at the last minute. I found myself alone and having to make new travel arrangements, finding a ride with young students and friends I hadn’t seen in a while.
Many thoughts were running through my head: a sick child at home, a quarrel with my husband, two dear friends who were facing serious family problems, an issue to face within the GBU board, a members meeting I had to lead. I wasn’t feeling any joy. I wasn’t in the mood to talk to new students and get to know them, nor of having the burden of responsibilities and intense discussions. Yet, I had to.
I desired to have a special encounter with God, just like when I was a student. I whispered a quick prayer as I hopped in the car: Lord, I want to strip myself of all the emotional and physical baggage and let you lead me by your grace in these next days.
The first thing that eased the tension was the road trip: the kindness and pleasantness of my travel companions helped me get rid of the sense of inadequacy I felt due to the age difference.
Many small surprises followed, and touched me deeply. The stories of two students who met the Lord at university through the GBU, reminded me of how important it had been for me, at the time of my university studies, to meet a group of students who loved the Lord and read the Bible on campus. Thanks to them my life changed radically.
And what about the unexpected encouter with a former board member and life long supporter of the GBU? It rolled back the years of the history of the GBU movement, I could sense how alive and precious is the commitment of the people who believe in this mission because, just like me, they have received great blessings and benefits from the GBU. God wanted me to be a witness of the spiritual handover of the GBU, teaching me at the same time that He is sovereign over my life and the life of the GBU, that He knows best how to lead the people and the mission.
But the greatest joy was digging into the text of John 3:22-36, fully understanding what happened and being surprised at how a text I had read so many times was still communicating something very personal to me. What is my joy dependent on? On what others say about me? On being, or not being, acknowledged and appreciated for what I say or do? On what I have or, even more, on what I do not have? If it depends on all this, obviously my joy will be fleeting, it will come and go.
But my joy can be full and complete, when I cultivate my relationship with Jesus. And so it was for me, deeply experiencing in these few days that although I started in a #neverajoy situation, with Him I ended with one of #completejoy.