Watch your Step
by Jill Tyson
(I’m thinking a lot about how independent I am and how I want to be perceived by others. Just how independent am I without the Master Teacher and His leading in my life? Not very. I’d better watch my step.)
In mountainous Adjara, I climb many stairs every day. Shortly after I arrived at my post, I noticed that in many places the rise of the steps is uneven, meaning that I need to step with care in order to reduce the risk of falling. At first, I thought all this unevenness was another funny thing to write down about my village like roaming livestock outside my office window or the shock on people’s faces when I’ve gone away to Tbilisi for the weekend and they find out that I didn’t eat or even think about khinkali one time.
That ascent up the uneven flight can be compared to my walk with the Father. Even though our Father urges me to be consumed with longing for Him , to love Him , to follow Him , and pray to Him without ceasing , often I have a self-sufficient attitude about my abilities, problems, and plans. Sometimes I walk through my day without more than routine thought towards heaven until I am faced with an uneven rise, a trip in my step that reminds me to attend to my spirit and path.
Those of us who feel called to live abroad either part or full-time may feel this sense of self-sufficiency even more. We are used to language barriers, figuring out public transportation routes, living without electricity for days, and being so cold that even when there is hot water we still don’t want to take a bath. We can handle it. We get a natural high out of the exotic places and people we live among, the strange foods and unfamiliar cultures. Both at home in the US and abroad, people often comment and compliment me for being brave in these new surroundings. In teaching posts abroad, I enjoy an elevated status that I don’t have at home as an adjunct English instructor at a state university. People are more interested in me. I’m appreciated. I read the Word and pray every day. All is good as we take these automatic, easy steps; until we fall or find ourselves at the bottom.
In February, I fell to the bottom of the “stairs.” An incident at home with one of our six almost-grown kids caused everyone in my family deep pain and worry. The reparations are ongoing, and my family and I are in constant prayer over the situation months later. We keep hoping for the best, and then there is another setback, and so the cycle has been going for the past months, and unbeknownst to us, for a couple of years before. In my eighteen years of travel abroad for short-term stints and now for a longer six-month term with the Peace Corps, nothing like this had ever happened. Sure, we had our share of issues, but no one died, no one had an urgent need, my kids were good and trustworthy, and there was no cause to rethink my way of life. Yahweh had blessed our family; we were healthy, had enough material possessions, friends, and an active curiosity about the world that kept us involved in many good projects.
I realized in February that I’d been taking even steps for most of my adult life and assuming that all would continue to be well personally and professionally. When we don’t carefully watch our step, when we attend our own way, we will trip and fall. It’s imperative to walk step by step with the Master Teacher, knowing He leads us in ways that may be even more uncomfortable than an unfamiliar place, but necessary for our growth in Him, no matter where on earth we find ourselves on this journey.
 Psalm 119:20.
 Luke 10:27.
 Psalm 16: 11.
 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
What’s Your Perspective
We welcome your comments on any of the ideas in this post or in answer to the questions below.
- In what ways are you tempted to put your life’s work–like teaching or offering humanitarian aid–in front of dependence on our Father for everyday direction?
- Do you go about your day without attending your steps? Think of a time when you were in the very center of Yahweh’s will as far as place and work, but you missed opportunities to serve and trust? What did you learn from that experience?
- Are you wrapped up in the praise of others?
Jill and her husband have been married 31 years and have 6 children. Jill was and still is an active board member for several international organizations, many that have initiatives in former Soviet countries. She has a BA in Political Science/International Relations from the University of Tennessee, a CELTA certificate from Moscow, and later attended LCC International University for an MA in TESOL.
My wife is a very strong willed, independent person. Jill has a heart for the Master and serving Him. Her work ethic is second to none and her ability to wear many hats at one time (multi -task) is impressive. She loves people and studying different cultures is one of her favorite past times. As for her ability to teach, it goes without saying, her ability is impeccable. Her students, wether foriegn or domestic love her and express this over and over. She has a way of connecting with them that leads to an enduring relationship. Her witness in the classroom as well as in the office is remarkable and is evident in how her students and co-workers respond. She is loved by all. I love her too!!☺
Thank you, Jill