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Friday, November 22, 2013

God on the Line

Did you ever have a time in your life when you put God on hold to get other things done? I don’t mean momentarily, like you forgot about him during the day. I mean, more like you no longer thought you needed Him, so you left Him as an afterthought. Maybe you hung up on Him altogether.

What happened when you picked up His line again? Was He still there?

Well, let me tell you, not only is He still there, but while He was waiting for you, He held the phone to His ear with his shoulder and continued to work on your behalf!

Years ago I thought I knew too much to concern myself with things of God. I had pushed my childlike faith aside for things of research. I contemplated grand ideas about the world and on occasion considered how a god might fit into it … somewhere.

This god was a small god in my mind. But even though I considered Him small, He still did big things in my life. For example, I can see many ways He’d been preparing me to be the mother of a special needs child. He led me to a story about a mute boy, which would become a favorite years before my son was born. This story taught me how to appreciate my son as nothing else could. God gave me a dog who had several chronic medical issues which required many of the same types of therapies I now use with my son. And He put me in a job with wonderful Christians at just the time I would require a faith before the coming storm.

He was on the line the whole time.

Still, it wasn’t just what he did for me, but how He used me to accomplish His Will even during my weakest (or non-existent) faith moments. There’s nothing like the feel of being an empty vessel of the Lord, even if you don’t know you’re being used at the time.

As a graduate student, I ran and lived in an all-male dorm while working on my counseling degree. This was a tenuous position and my new, all-male, staff let me know they were a little leery. Never before had a woman lived in the all-male dorms at this university. I’d been selected from the applicants who’d actually applied for the resident director position in the all-female hall.

At the first meeting I could sense my staff worried I’d paint the halls pink and hang lacey curtains in the lounges. They asked me pointed questions about my plans and showed their resistance to too much change—particularly since I’d come in mid-year.

It was my goal to develop a sense of authority, yet be sensitive (yes, I used that girly word) to their needs.

Then, my senior resident assistant informed me of a long-standing, streaking (yes, that means naked guys running) tradition the whole community had grown accustomed to and wondered what I’d planned to do about it. It was clear he expected me to do nothing, especially since that had been the protocol for the past several decades.

So here I am, The Woman in the building. I feared taking this tradition away would put me at odds with my staff before I even got started, so I did what the RA wanted. I sat on my hands.

You could say that wasn’t very Christian of me, since streaking in public is against the law and I should have trusted God to have my back while I did the right thing. However, that wasn’t even a consideration for me at the time.

You could say I was a coward for not doing the right thing and sticking to my guns. My only answer to that would be …


But there is one thing you could not say about me. You could not say God had forsaken me, because even though I’d neglected Him, He still used me as an empty vessel.

I muddled through that semester, the lone, twenty-something, woman living with hundreds of hard-partying, college-age (and hormonal) guys. To say the atmosphere was sexually charged would be a vast understatement. My building had the highest rate of Victoria Secret catalogues sent to it. The guys had to buy “lacy under-things” on a regular basis so they could continue to receive it.


While running this building, I endured being hit on in the hallways by droopy-towel-wearing men, I had to protect myself from attempts to get my white shirts wet, and shield myself from what felt like a constant x-ray body scan. On occasion, however, I planned some really cool programs, developed great relationships with guys who needed advice about women, and even got a little respect.

Though I ended up loving that job, for a number of reasons I decided not to continue the next year. Before I knew this would be the case, I worked to select my next-year’s staff. Among the candidates was a stern, thickly built, young man who wore an expression on his face that said, “Don’t mess with me.” He struck me as a man of character and I knew I wanted him working the hall known for the wildest parties. In fact, he’d already lived there. This was also the place my streakers lived.

For some reason, my boss did not like him, but I suspect it was more that she had other candidates in mind for those positions and saw him as a threat to her placing them. We went back and forth much on this issue, but I was not the one in the highest position of authority. I had to fight for this guy, but something told me I must. I did not make it a point to listen to the Holy Spirit regularly (if at all) back then, but I now believe that’s who I heard.

In the end, he got the job.

I later discovered this young man made his first order of business to end the decades-long streaking tradition. When I heard about it from one of my former staff I couldn’t help but smile. I didn’t realize then who was really responsible for this (God), but it felt good to have played a small role in it just the same (even unwittingly). This news also inspired me to be more courageous with my convictions as this young man had been. I’m sure he did not garner favor with his hall mates having taken away their “fun.”

I’ve always carried a certain respect for this guy. So much so that he inspired the character, nick-named Preacher, in my manuscript entitled One Among Men. Though Preacher is not the main character of this story, it was his parallel’s courage that caused me to write about the challenges a new Christian faces in the highly secular environment of a major state university—especially one who is a mid-twenties female living with hundreds of hard-partying, college guys—Sigh!

I love how God used this man’s courage as an example to me, even at a time I did not fully appreciate it. I hope I can do the same for others one day.

Who inspired you when you weren’t looking to be inspired?

Other posts you might like:

Where Did You First Meet God in the Bible?

What Brought You to Christ?

A No-Matter-What Kind of Joy

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