fairest lord Jesus, ruler of all nature
son of God and son of man…
I’ll never forget being Switzerland when the reality that I wasn’t my own boss hit me. I had come to Switzerland to “teach” at an American School in Leysin, Switzerland…a quaint town nestled in the Alps. My high school choir teacher had begun a choir program there during the summer terms, and had recruited some of her students to come along and teach with her. I was an avid outdoor tree hugger, birks and all. The mountains beckoned me and I went. I had the opportunity to “teach” P.E. P.E. to a bunch of kiddos…from Spain, China, Russia, Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Israel, the “middle east” One of my students was the nephew of a king in Kazakstan. Whaaaat? I was 18 years old at the time. My job was to be pseudo mom to these kids who spent their school year abroad at boarding school, and their summers abroad at summer school, take them on hikes in the mountains and play sports. AKA: dream job for Alison. My heart broke for them. I lived at home all the time. But this was their normal. It was completely normal for kids to only see their parents three times a year??? Some kids spoke broken English. The only other language I could brokenly speak at the time was Spanish. I actually communicated with Italian kids that were 8 years old in Spanish because they knew Spanish but no English and I didn’t know Italian, except what words I had learned studying Italian arias in my voice classes. I became fluent in Spanish while living in Switzerland by speaking to kids from Italy. Go figure. It was awesome to be there. I was learning to comfort kids who I couldn’t speak too. They would get sick, or be scared, or lonely…and I got to just hold them or pat their backs…or take them for a hike. It was a sweet place to be.
On the weekends, I would travel with other teachers to crazy places like France, stay in hostels and hike in the mountains. I would go on hikes up 15,000 feet peaks! I would awake at 5am and return at 8pm. I would sleep with my windows WIDE open with the cool mountain air blasting my face, but my body warm beneath the down comforter. I would gaze out in the mountain valley and see lights flickering that were outdoor fires…and watch fall asleep as I watched them burn out. I traveled all OVER that part of Europe. I hiked to chateus and would have salads that had just been picked and covered in goat cheese…as the goat was nibbling at the strings on my hiking boots. I would stay up late and play cards and drink wine (yep, totally legal after my 18th birthday in Switzerland) with people from all over America that came to teach during the summer, after teaching in the States all year. That seems like a dream now when I look at my scrapbook. Did that really happen? There was sooo much freedom to choose whatever I wanted. I was my own boss. But I had come to seek something while I was away from America. Seek and find I did.
The spring before I had left for Europe, I had a friend who shared about her faith in this “Jesus”. My family had gone to church on important holidays, and did our service days when I was scheduled to be an acolyte or sing in the choir. I knew there were faiths. I knew there was the church where “good” people went on Sundays. But there was something striking, different and so attractive about this lady. She read her Bible EVERYDAY. She prayed EVERYDAY. She said her life was not her own and that she had accepted Christ as her Savior. She had chosen to not be the boss anymore of her own life, but to follow what the Lord says in the Bible. She had given up freedoms for a captivating love of a Savior. She was different because of these things and I wanted to see what it was all about. Freedom was pretty sweet here. Why would I seek captivation?
So. I bought a small, pocket Bible…covered it in a cool piece of leather so people wouldn’t know what I was reading. And I read. I read and read and read. All my spare time I spent reading the Bible…when I was hiking, I would stop, take my Bible out and read. I began to speak into thin air about life and questions I had about the words I was reading…my first prayers. I began to read before I went out for the day, and at night when I returned. I read the entire Bible in 8 weeks. Genesis to Revelation. I was thirsty to know. I was lost and needed guidance. And I was seeking. Seeking to let go of being the boss of my own life, and to begin the process of giving it away. It turned me upside down and inside out. It rocked me to read these words of love. Of unconditional love. I could give my life to Him and not have to prove myself everyday? It was already done? I couldn’t do anything to earn the love of Jesus? Crazy faith. Crazy. No way. Crazy.
I became a Christian that summer. My faith journey began with just opening the Bible and seeing what it was all about. Reading God’s word transformed me. I don’t know how. I can’t say the “day” or “time” I gave my life away to Christ in faith. But that summer, I began a journey. A daily journey of giving my life to Christ. I still wake up and read and pray. I have had such breakdowns in this rhythm since I began it. I have failed and fleed. Yet, I still return to this Word that gives life.
I found God in the mountains of Switzerland. God sought me, and found me in the mountains of Switzerland. Every time I sing this song, I remember how God used His creation to woo me to Himself. Here is an arrangement of “Fairest Lord Jesus” that I wrote. This hymn has an unknown author. It is thought to be written my monks as early as the 1600’s in Germany. The words would be sung in a Gregorian Chant style. Music was written for the words by Richard S. Willis in the mid 1800’s for hymnals. I pray the Lord seeks you and finds you and you find freedom in His captivating word.