I know Jesus because Steve gave me a card.
When I was 17, softball consumed my life and family. I was pretty much the awesomest player ever, but my softball successes made me a horrible sister. While my parents and I were out gallivanting the nation, my sister was at home getting into trouble and feeling completely unloved. I thought this was fair because she clearly wasn’t as awesome as I was and didn’t deserve as much attention as I deserved.
That’s why I ignored her when she started going to church. She bible-thumped me pretty hard, which made it nearly impossible for my pride to accept anything less than the gift of a pink baby Pegasus from her… or maybe just an oversized chocolate milk in a Star Trek collector’s cup. Had she gifted me with either of those things, and I would probably have gone to church with her.
In the midst of completely ignoring her, though, full-on with fingers in my ears, saying, “lalalalala! I can’t hear you!” I prayed. I had prayed intermittently my whole life, and couldn’t ignore God nearly as persistently as I could my sister – especially with Him prodding so annoyingly at my shriveled heart.
So I asked God to give me a sign. I told Him that I didn’t want to go to church, but I would do it if only He’d make it clear that that’s what I needed to do.
The next day, Steve (one of my sister’s church friends) gave me a card for their church’s teen group.
Yep. At least I think so. I know it isn’t wise to ask for signs from God; when all those Pharisee guys asked, Jesus was like, “The only sign you’re getting is the sign of Jonah,” but luckily He doesn’t answer us all the same way.
I went to the teen group, met some amazing people, and fell in love with Jesus. I was baptized a couple of months later, and Steve & wife Lori are two of my bestest friends in the world.
About three years down the road, I was leading stuff at a super-big church and felt pretty spiritual and important.
What’s that? You’re starting to think I struggle with arrogance and pride?
I don’t know where you’d get that from, and how rude of you to point it out! Hmphf!
Where was I before you so rudely interrupted?
I was sitting at a restaurant one day, minding my business, eating lunch and studying, when I noticed three guys at a nearby table talking about Jesus. My PHR (Prospective Husband Radar) sounded alarms all over the place (I really wanted a man at that time), so… I introduced myself. The leader man handed me an info card for a little church called the Crossing. Turns out that while I was hunting for a hubby, God was more interested in giving me a dad. The man with the card was Dave, and he has become my adopted daddy who teaches me more than anyone else in the whole wide world.
I stayed at the Crossing for about 6 years, and the most valuable thing I learned there was that I’m not at all awesome. In fact, I suck a lot.
About two years ago, I was visiting a friend’s church when someone handed me a flyer about an organization called English Language Institute: China.
Six months later, I’d taken my first tangible step into trusting God more than I trust myself by terrifyingly obeying Him in a call to teach English overseas.
And those moments are the three I most frequently come back to when I need to remember how God has worked in my life… how He’s sovereignly piecing things together.
Now, I’m sitting in Starbucks, and I’ve spent the past week in intense prayer and searching. I’ve been sitting in the shrug, focusing on my failures and weaknesses (not in a depressing way), and waiting. Every time I’ve prayed recently, I’ve asked God, “What do I do about (fill in the blank with pretty much anything – job, church, roommates, etc…?” and His consistent answer has been “Wait, daughter. Wait.”
Which is just about the last thing I feel like doing.
I think I’d rather have major surgery than wait right now.
I’d even rather have my picture taken 500 times and posted on a billboard than wait. right. now.
I’m like Inigo Montoya. I hate waiting – not so much in a whatiwantmusthappennow! way, but more like a can’tijustdothisthingwhileiwait? sort of way. It’s Joshua Harris’s fault. He wrote something about hustling while you wait in his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which I read like 9 years ago or something, and can’t get out of my head.
But I digress.
I was at Starbucks reading chapter 6 of Matthew for about the 80th time this week, when Friend Jordan called from Tennessee. We talked, and I told her about the things God has been teaching me. I explained all of my sad yet joyous experiences with the church I’m currently at. I read her a passage about not being anxious about tomorrow, and we hung up.
And a guy at the table next to me – someone I’ve never met – stood up, set a card down on my table and introduced himself as Pete, the pastor of a new church plant.
And my heart leapt!
Is God sovereignly talking to me through another one of those handy-dandy cards? I’m not gonna lie, I’m not a fan of flyers and cards. I’m too awesome for them… except that God clearly works through the cheesiest, least personal of tools. Is that what He’s doing now?
I’ll keep you posted.
*NOTE: I wrote this during my week-long blog hiatus, so I’ve actually already checked out Pete’s church, but haven’t had a chance to write about it. Let me tell you quickly… I sat next to a nice lady named Marj (I chose to spell it with a ‘j’ rather than a ‘g’ because I suspect it’s short for Marjorie and I don’t want it to remind me of Large Marge from Pee Wee’s big Adventure). Pastor Pete remembered my name and gave me a hug. I ran into a dentist I hiked with a couple of years back whose dad was the guy who put me in contact with English Language Institute and helped get me ready for Mongolia. Worship was two acoustic guitars playing “Be Thou My Vision” and “Amazing Grace”. They’re starting a new bible study series thing that goes over some Timothy Keller DVDs, and I’ve been eager to read some of his stuff, so I’m signed up to check that out tomorrow/today – I can’t figure out which day WordPress believes it is).