Third Friday of Advent: Truth Teller
A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
—Isaiah 40:3-5 (Read Isaiah 40)
In 2008, I graduated from college in a town that I loved. Our community, particularly within campus ministry, was rich, and I came on CCO staff at another college, eager to work with student leaders, to build and sustain a similar kind of life-changing experience for college students.
So I scheduled coffee meetings and lunches to try to develop trust and deeper relationships. But I was surprised to discover that students weren’t particularly excited about meeting with me. Time and time again, I came home to my empty apartment in tears.
Planning meetings also ended with rejection of my ideas and attempts to lead. I found myself daydreaming about leadership meetings when I was a student. Those had been filled with robust conversations with staff and peers that I loved. These ended with awkward tension and mistrust.
This was not what I expected.
I invited Allie, a coworker and friend who I respected, to speak to students. Before our campus fellowship group, I shared my disappointments over dinner.
“I knew this would be hard,” I confessed. “But I thought it would feel worth it.”
Allie spoke to students about calling and vocation that night. Fewer students came than I’d hoped, adding to my disappointment. But Allie’s greatest preaching happened during our walk across campus to her car.
As I walked away from her, filled with gratitude for a familiar face and a listening ear, I turned back to wave, and Allie yelled across the street to me.
“Jamie. It won’t be like this forever!”
In that moment—and especially in my memory—this moment feels like one of those key scenes in a film. The cars around fade out of view, the small town is quiet against her voice, and the streetlight above Allie shines over her, almost like her words were a part of lighting up the sky.
I knew Allie. I trusted her. I knew she was a truth teller.
The Lord met me in that moment, and those words carried a weighty hope that sustained me.
Now on the other side of this experience and in my 13th year of college ministry, I’ve often told young staff in ministry those same words, hoping that they might carry a measure of the hope that they brought me.
In 2020, I find myself in a similar season. I’m wondering about the futility of work in a season where nothing quite feels familiar. Once again, meetings feel disappointing—this time over a Zoom screen—lacking the connection I’m longing for. We’re seeing injustice that does not seem to end. Many of us have experienced personal heartbreaks and disappointments during this year.
And yet, in this season of Advent, there’s another Voice crying out to pierce the darkness: “Jamie! It won’t be like this forever!”
The voice of Jesus cries out into every bit of despair and weariness, declaring that this is not the end of the story. The birth of Jesus speaks of the covenant-keeping nature of God, filling us with hope for the glorious day that is coming.
This current season will end. The glory of God will be revealed.
And we will see it together.
—Jamie Donne has worked for the CCO for 13 years, after being a part of a CCO ministry during her student years at Kent State University.