It’s probably the fiftieth time I’ve clicked the top of the Facebook group: Music & Arts DTS. The familiar banner pops up– mountains and wilderness and bold-white words. Familiar names of fellow DTS students are scattered below it, and the groups’ invitation to “Write something…” sits calmly in the centre. Yet today it is completely different from the other forty-nine times I’ve clicked on this page. As I look up from my laptop screen it hits me, this isn’t just a dream or something I’ve heard about on social media.
This is real life.
“He-roh!” Tuesday morning, and I could barely express my excitement at first bumping into one fellow student– we both had toothbrushes in our mouths! Over the past few weeks before arriving in Australia, we had connected via the Facebook group and found out we both loved photography and had just graduated university (I thought I might be the only one on DTS!). After chatting for so long, now she was standing in front of me, blue eyes sparkling. Yes, our awkward attempt at a hug in the girls’ bathroom wasn’t what I expected as a glorious ‘first meeting’– but even though we only met a moment before, we were already laughing like old friends. This wasn’t just a profile picture of a stranger anymore. She was real life, and far more fun than I ever expected.
As Worship began on our first day, I kept catching sight of more and more fellow classmates that had previously just been a Facebook profile to skim over. Slightly overwhelmed and distracted, I still looked forward to getting to know them all in the next six months. Students had come across the world from Canada, Norway, and Germany– to name just a few! Rather than having a cultural “label”, they were now people smiling right in front of me. Together, we belted out a song I knew way too well. “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me” (Oceans, Hillsong United). I shuddered at its cliche– hadn’t I heard this at least fifty times on my iPod over the past few years?
However, I found myself crying out with real people and real instruments, not just my headphones or speaker system at home. During my final year of university, I kept pleading with God to tell me precisely what to do or where to go.
I never thought DTS was an option, just something far off that I’d heard about for a long time.
To my frustration (and giddy excitement), God kept asking me “What do you want?”. So I found myself in Newcastle, Australia– a place very close to my heart– when I expected to be in a normal teaching job in New Zealand.
Therefore, as everyone around me chanted the chorus of Oceans, tears were slipping down my cheeks. No longer was I singing about where God would call me next, I was exactly where I wanted to be. My tears found words– “I want to stay!” and then came the soft reply from inside:
“You’re not going anywhere, Kayla.”
Yep, this is real life, not because as a twenty-something I knew exactly what to do with my life– far from it. I’m bumping into new-found friends with toothbrushes in our mouths and singing my heart out with cross-cultural classmates for a very different reason. This is real life because Jesus is a real person, someone who speaks and smiles and asks me what I want– simply because He loves me.