You may have thought I was done affirming teachers. I thought so too, at least until this morning.
Earlier today, I heard a familiar voice projecting from the kitchen speakers before breakfast. Steve is forever listening to recorded lectures and podcasts. There is no cerebral rest for the weary Ph.D. student.
The voice spoke wisdom with effortless conviction in a dignified English accent. The voice was melodic, so easy and pleasant to follow. The voice belonged to Sarah Williams. At once I knew she deserved today’s shout-out.
Perhaps you know Sarah. I feel like she’s as gracious and eloquent as they come. Steve had the opportunity to work closely with her as he completed his masters at Regent College in Vancouver. As for me, I only had a handful of pleasant interactions with Sarah but I had a deeply rooted respect for her then, as I do today.
Steve repeatedly praised Sarah as a prolific orator and generous educator. I simply took his word for it but last year I finally experienced the wonder of her teaching, even if just on film. Her brief lecture was one in a series of ten recorded lectures packaged together as ReFrame. The course was designed to explore what it means to live fully integrated as a Christian in society. Her words resonated in my heart and remained long after her lecture, similar to notes suspended in a cathedral, filling the silence.
She spoke on how the Gospel of Christ securely reframes our identities – past, present, and future – in a culture that is misguided and constantly striving after the wind. Discovering what our identity as human beings is, and perhaps more importantly, what it is not – this is powerful.
“As we encounter Jesus we come to see that human identity comes to us as a gift. I do not have to strive to acquire a self, I do not have to invent it out of a multitude of options. Rather, I can receive what has been given to me with gratitude and peace. REST.”
Yes, Sarah. Yes.
I could testify but for brevity sake, just know that more than once in my twenties I felt the ground beneath me crumbling and I had to reclaim my identity as a woman simply made by God, loved immensely and undeservedly regardless of the state I was in. This was a mighty and humbling experience. I’m aware that I encountered this unusually earlier than most of my peers. Despite what you may be thinking, I am not in my mid-forties, at least not biologically, and I am not the proud owner of a new convertible or motorcycle.
Sarah, your work continues to challenge me. In fact, I just reread the transcript from your talk and my eyes welled with tears yet again. Thank you for being faithful to use your gifts, so generously sharing from your heart and mind. God is delighted in the work you are doing, be it at work, at play, or at rest.
(PS. In this clip, you can encounter both Sarah Williams AND the wonderful Rikk Watts, whom I am clearly a fan of. He raised one hell of a son.)