Today I’m going to copy in here the insert notes from the 2016 Youth Music Mission to Chattanooga, Knoxville, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond. It gives you an idea of the kind of story we try to tell when we go meet people. I can’t believe we have only a month and a week or so before we leave!
Lives are like snowflakes: no two are exactly alike. The history of our experiences shapes who we are just as certainly as our DNA shapes how we react in those experiences. It is this unique combination of stories that forms our identity, which consists both of how the world views us and also how we view the world. There has never been another like you, and there will never be another. You are one-of-a-kind in the truest sense of the words.
Still, we as humans have much in common with each other. We may have as much in common as we have in difference! We require air, water, food, and shelter. When those most basic needs are met, we naturally seek for more: we seek to be comfortable. We are curious not just about our world but about our role in the world. We seek purpose and understanding. And almost as certainly as we require air, water, food, and shelter, we require love.
Sometimes those needs are hard to come by. When they are, when we are starved for the most basic necessities of life, when we are starved for love, our stories turn dark and grim. That’s something else we have in common: we know what it means to suffer. If we’ve lived long enough, we know what it means to come to the frayed end of our rope with nothing but a deep, deep river below. We know what it means to wonder how we can go on.
Someone once said that as long as there are tests there will be prayer in public schools. That hints at something else we all have in common: in our darkest moments, “when sorrows like sea billows roll,” we turn to a higher power for help. Some people call that God. Some people call it other names for God. Some people don’t call it God at all. Still, “when the storms of life are raging,” we reach beyond ourselves for help, breathing a plea for mercy with what we fear may be our last breath.
Out of the river, a hand emerges. Could it be the hand of God? Or is it the hand of a family member or a friend or even a total stranger? What is the difference? Are not ours the hands of God? When in our darker moments we seek to walk closer with God, do we not seek to walk closer to each other?
The truth is that sometimes we need to be held, and sometimes we are in a place where we can hold someone else. As long as we walk together, not just friends and family but as the people of the world, you will have a very present help in time of trouble. You will be a very present help in time of trouble. And you will never walk alone.