On the day of high school graduation, I was pulled aside by a teacher. Actually, I was pulled aside by two teachers, in succession. The first emphatically told me how smart I am and not to be afraid of math (I had taken his Algebra II class…twice), and the second lowered his voice to a hush and told me with a squeeze of my shoulder to just keep that wild heart in check and you’ll go far.
My apologies Mr. Algebra Teacher, but math both terrifies and bores me to this day. And to the latter teacher, at the time I was confused. Wildhearted? Me? Was I ever even vocal in his classroom? Was it because I wrote a paper on Kerouac? In a small town, does an interest in the beatnik movement automatically elevate you to the status of wild?
Now, fifteen years later, I recognize the truth in his words. I have a restless heart. It stirs when I should be sleeping. It reverberates with anticipation of some great unknown thing – while I’m driving, reading, working. It sends my fingers flipping, rapid fire through pages of the Bible, devotions roulette, what does God want to tell me tonight? It knows that the world is larger than this life I am living and it is pounding to go.
Which is why sometimes when God speaks and says simply: Stay (even though you don’t want to. Even though your heart is stirring. Stay.) I fight it. Don’t you know I would give up my house, my cars, my comfortable life, to go? I would live in a tiny apartment in Eastern Europe, I would live in a shack in a village in Africa, I would go anywhere. Here I am.
And then, in that very moment, the song I Will Follow comes on my Pandora station and I realize the line that is touching my heart isn’t the “I will go,” but the more challenging (for my restless heart), “Where you stay, I’ll stay. Who you love, I’ll love. How you serve, I’ll serve.”
And I am thoroughly annoyed.
But then, there is comfort too, in learning discernment and in understanding that this is for now, for this moment, this chapter. Of course God knows my (wild, restless, let’s all jump on a plane and change the world, sorry I’ll be broke and won’t be able to pay you back anymore, Sallie Mae) heart. He made it and I will stay. And I will trust. He will use it yet.