My Semester Living With Music Artist, Kari Jobe

meandkari

I was a mere 18 years old. I had packed up my yellow Sunfire, said goodbye to “Steeler Nation” and headed over 2,000 miles away to Dallas, Texas, to pursue Jesus and ministry in a brand new way. I left behind some precious jewels and even some idols.

I was insanely close with the girls I went to grade school and high school with. I am a proud public school gal and grew up with the same kids my whole life. In a small town, you learn to love the kids you don’t even like. I also had to leave my mom and dad, who were my true best friends (although I would not have admitted it then). But the hardest person to leave behind was my high school sweetheart.

The truth is that I had made an idol out of my boyfriend in those days, because I put him before my relationship with Jesus. We dated for two years, and the summer before I left for college, God spoke very clearly to my heart.

He said, “You have until you go to college to end this relationship.” I remember it so clearly. It was so loving, but stern and “parent” like. Our relationship had grown unhealthy, and I had a calling on my life to be a minister.

At that point in my life, I was pretty sure I was going to be the next Joyce Meyer (which now makes me laugh at myself); but hey, at least I wanted to be Joyce and not Britney Spears.

The point is that God told my parents before I was born that I had big things to do for Him someday. God confirmed that calling when I gave my life to Jesus at 13 years old. I had to get focused.

So, I also packed my yellow Sunfire with one very broken heart. I had sacrificed my greatest idol for my destiny (as we all must do).

I showed up to Christ for the Nations Bible Institute, which is located in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Dallas, Texas, broken and ready to seek God without any distractions. I walked into my new apartment and met my three new roommates: Natalie, Jenae, and Kari.

Natalie was a singer from Florida; oh my goodness could she belt it out! Jenae was an artistic, blond beauty who grew up with all brothers in Arkansas, so I knew who would protect us if we got in a pinch. Kari was a sweet, genuine and humble Texas Native, who had dreams of being a worship leader. She was just learning to play the guitar, finding her voice, and had all sorts of deep things going on inside her soul. But, you would never know it.

Kari was as silly as silly gets – full of fun, but focused on her destiny. One time a group of us all went out to see a movie. Our very strict Bible school did not allow us to see R-rated movies. Most of us didn’t care, but Kari did. Without judgement, Kari opted to sit out if we were going to see the R-rated movie. She was not there to break rules. None of us saw the movie.

Kari, four years older than me, was like a wise big sister to me in a foreign land of big hair, strange accents, and cowboy boots.

On a day I felt particularly homesick and missing my jewels and idols that I sacrificed back in Pennsylvania, we roomies sat on the floor in a circle of our living room. Kari decided to break out her guitar and sing us a song. She looked down the whole time as she stayed focused on playing the keys right.

She sang a song by Rita Springer (who was a hero of hers),

I don’t understand Your ways
Oh but I will give You my song
Give You all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
With it You are pulling me closer
And pulling me into Your ways

Now around every corner
And up every mountain
I’m not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains
I’m desperate in seeking, frantic believing
That the sight of Your face
Is all that I need
I will say to You

It’s gonna be worth it
It’s gonna be worth it
It’s gonna be worth it all
I believe this
It’s gonna be worth it
It’s gonna be worth it
It’s gonna be worth it all
I believe this

When she was finished and looked up, tears were streaming down all of our faces. In that moment I knew that we had all made sacrifices to follow our callings, and that it was going to be worth it even if we didn’t understand how everything would work out.

Without a doubt, Kari’s gift is to minister to those who are broken and are crying out for peace and joy. At 18 years old, I was skinny from stress and was trying way too hard to please Abba God, who I now know was already pleased with me.

I was not confident in God’s unconditional love for me. I thought I had to behave a certain way for Him to accept me. I was obsessed with obeying His Will and feared I would make a mistake.

Kari was a sensitive soul like me who also wanted to obey God more than anything else in the world. She once encouraged me to give all my worries to God, stop stressing about God’s Will and trust Him to work it all out.

That took me years to learn how to do, and maybe I am still learning to walk by faith, but I have found a bit more rest in my brokenness these days.

Looking back, I am amazed at the love of God for little ole’ me. He saw my bucket of tears that I had cried as a teenage girl and knew I would need a very special human who specializes in brokenness to live with and sing over me to ease my pain.

Even today, as I write this post, I am crying, because I often still feel broken in this crazy world. Yet, God sends His angels, even in this very moment, to collect all of my tears and mend my life wounds. I don’t see them, but I know they surround me.

Through the years, I have followed Kari’s career from afar. We emailed back and forth once in a blue moon in the very beginning of her fame, but have lost personal connection as the world calls her name and she attempts to minister to all.

Yet, I have carried her song in my heart all these years when life has been beyond painful; when I have wondered,

Where are you God?

Have you left me?

Am I alone? 

Why can’t I find a job in the ministry or at a college?

Why are male ministers preferred over female ministers?

Why do I have all these theology degrees?

What am I going to do with all this student loan debt?

Why do I get chronic migraines?

Why did I have that miscarriage last year?

Why did I lose those friends?

Why are certain relationships so difficult?

Why have so many things not worked out?

Why do I work 60 hours a week on a blog and ministry, without making a paycheck?

But then I remember Kari, with her spiky brown hair, struggling to get her ministry career off the ground, singing, “It’s gonna be worth it.” As she sings hope over millions of people today and is a Dove Award winner, it is safe to say that whatever pain she faced and sacrifices she made were worth it, and they will be worth it for you and me, too. We are not all destined to be celebrities, but we were all born to shine!

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