God can use a whisper in a pew
In keeping with Valentine’s Day, several of our stories this month are about romantic relationships, which I love. But as a single person, I don’t have much “insight” to share in this regard.
(I can tell you what I learned at age 11: If he shares his pizza with you, so far so good. But if he’s too scared to call you all summer, it’s too soon.)
In all seriousness, this is one month I just want to write about how God has been nudging me in my life. Recently, I felt I had hit a sort of spiritual plateau. I was still reading my Bible regularly and praying. But the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized just how much I live for myself. I often spend more time thinking about celebrities and pop culture (rooting for Brad and Jen!), and what I want to do with my weekend, than about God’s calling on my life.
Which is not to say we can’t have fun. God is far from a killjoy. But the more I get into the things of God, and the more I get of God Himself, the more I realize He is what I really want. All the stories our culture tells, all the things of this earth that give us joy, actually point us to Him in some way. Because He is the source of all good joy — and fulfills us in ways nothing and nobody else can.
So anyway. I think I’m coming to the end of my little plateau phase, by the grace of God.
On Wednesday nights, I go to my church’s college ministry. Which sounds weird, but I feel like I have a connection with college students. Senior year of college is when my childhood faith shattered, and a real faith slowly started peeking through. For that reason, college students are a demographic I feel like I could impact, personally.
At the end of every Wednesday-night college service, we have “corporate prayer.” This is when the students divide into groups of two to five-ish people and pray for each other’s specific needs.
Each week, a big part of me hopes the college pastor will forget to mention corporate prayer. Yet each week, it happens.
I don’t know many of the students, and I’m usually not bold enough to approach them. Inevitably, though, one of them will approach me. It’s always awkward, but I’m always glad I said yes. Last week, a young woman asked if I wanted to pray with her and her friends, and I followed them to the next pew over. We all shared similar concerns: that we weren’t where God wanted us to be, or that we might be struggling soon because certain people wouldn’t be there to walk alongside us.
As one of the girls spoke, I realized I was looking at myself. Our struggles seemingly grew out of the same root. She felt what I had felt at her age (except she might’ve had more self-awareness). This. Girl. Was. Me.
I prayed for all of us.
This is why I’m here, I thought on my way home. At times I’ve wished for a bigger platform to share my testimony with these students. That desire often is one of self-promotion, with God as the means and not the end. Shame on me. If all I ever do on a Wednesday night is pray with college students and encourage them, I’ll be content, by the grace of God.
Sometimes the biggest impact doesn’t come through a microphone or a book deal, but through a whisper in a pew — not because we pray particularly well, but because God puts us in that pew at the right time.
And sometimes if you’re on a plateau, it helps to be reminded of the basics: Love the Lord your God with all you have. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31) This will bring you joy beyond all reason. Praise God!
- February means not only Valentine’s Day but also Black History Month, and our cover story celebrates both with Jerry and Helen Young, pastor and first lady at one of Jackson’s most respected African-American churches (where all are welcome, by the way). Their love story is quiet, but just look at that opening photo.
- Angel and Craig Bailey got married, got divorced — and then married each other again.
- God answered Jan Schaefer’s prayer for “true love,” but not how she expected.