But let us put that aside for the time being.
Ladles and jellyspoons, toys and squirrels,
I stand here before you to hold your back
As I tell you a story I know nothing about.
The train I came on has not yet arrived,
So I took a bus and walked.
So draw up a chair and sit on the floor,
Admission is free:
Pay at the door.
Exactly a year ago last summer, I went to Gleanings for the Hungry in Dinuba, California. The week was absolutely awesome, for a number of personal reasons, not all of them I shall go into. I'll say this much: A week of manual labor for God's glory in 100+ degree weather does wonderful things for the state of your heart and soul.
At the end of my time at Gleanings, the eighty-some workers were given the chance to speak to the rest of the group about whatever happened to be on their hearts. A lot of people got in line, and there were many who said the same things we've all heard at the end of church camps: "I love y'all so much, God has done amazing things here in my heart, I'm going to miss y'all so much, you've changed my life," etc.
Now, I'm not saying that those feelings aren't genuine. It's just, I've been an egregious offender with speeches like that in the past, and had a firm resolve not to give in the Bible High and say something sappy. Not I, no sir'ee. I was determined not to join the swelling ranks of people going up to express those sentiments.
As I was sitting there, I kept feeling like I was REALLY SUPPOSED to go up and say something, but I didn't want to. I didn't know what I would say except the whole I-love-everyone-so-much, so I just wouldn't go up. But it kept coming back. You have to get in line to say something. No. No, really, get in line, say what I tell you to say. I WILL NOT EMBARRASS MYSELF. Whimsy, get in line. Now.
So it was with reluctance that I finally found myself in the line snaking up towards the microphone. In all likelihood, I would burst out in tears, tell everyone they'd changed my life, and take a seat. But when I got to the mic, I started speaking words I had never even thought about. I started testifying about a terrifying experience I had earlier that year at my last Regionals in speech and debate, how that had put it in my heart that Love is not just a feeling of goodwill towards others, but also an action demanded of us by a holy, righteous, justice-loving God. How God's love for the World was why He sent Jesus, and if Jesus truly lives in our hearts, He sends us to Love the world, too. And yes, there may have been some tears involved.
Well, I finally finished the entirely unplanned, impromptu speech, and one of the missionaries at Gleanings told me that what I had just said was a personal manifesto and mission from God, adding that he expected to hear what I had done when I came back "next year."
Over the coming weeks, it became clear to me that yes, a call into missions was present, and yes, I was supposed to do something about it. I started saving money. But when I started applying for jobs, nothing went smoothly.
The first job I thought I got was given to someone else. I have more "we regret to inform you we are not able to offer you employment at this time" emails than I even want to think about. Some companies never got back to me, some interviewed me and then never got back to me. Most companies looked at my non-existent job history and just raised an eyebrow before crumpling my resume into a ball and throwing it over their shoulders in the general direction of the trash.
I started wondering if I weren't delusional. Maybe that "call" I received so many months ago was nothing more than a Bible-High, after all. Maybe, it was simply my hyper-inflamed wanderlust putting on religious clothing to justify its existence. Maybe, putting off college for a year to work and do a mission trip were entirely outside of God's will. I started praying, desperately. If the mission trip really was my own selfish dream, I didn't want to give it up, but I knew I needed to. And if that were the case, I would need help to reconcile myself to that reality. Conversely, I had reached the point where I needed confirmation that I was still inside His will. After all, the steps I had taken to follow the path I thought was clear had all been rudely thwarted.
I've been praying about that since April - nothing. But that all changed last Sunday.
Last Sunday, I was praying the same thing I've been praying for months. Subjugate my will to Yours, confirm Your will in my life, etc. etc. Prayer time ended, and church broke for a snack before the hour-long sermon (you really need to fortify yourself to sit through them). Berg's family had brought a friend with them to church, and she introduced herself on my way to the kitchen. We got to chatting, and I briefly mentioned my plan for the mission trip this upcoming January. Berg's friend looked at me and smiled - she'd just gotten a job that paid her more than she had originally expected, and she wanted to use that unexpected money toward God's Kingdom. Here, take this.
That was less than five minutes after I'd prayed for confirmation.But it gets crazier. My dad was preaching the sermon last Sunday, but I was a little unnerved by the experience. After the sermon, I hurriedly told Dad about what had happened with the visitor. We prayed together, thanking God for His goodness, and went upstairs to fetch Dad's keys to put away some things in the car. I randomly checked my cell-phone, and was surprised to see a text from a store I had applied at months ago, wanting to know if I could come in for an interview in half an hour.
It takes exactly half-an-hour to get to the store from my church.Dad and I jumped in the car, and I hurriedly changed my t-shirt for a nice blouse. I got there precisely on time, despite traffic and the short notice. Fifteen minutes after I returned to church, the shop texted me again, offering the job.
We're still not done, though.
That night, I spent the night with Lady Specs, as she was leaving for college (yesterday, actually) and I wanted to see her one last time before she left. You can probably guess where this is going: after I get to her house, she tells me that she wants to give my mission trip a tithe, since she doesn't regularly attend/belong to any church. She gives me another significant amount of money - the third event that helps my mission trip in the course of about three hours.
At this point, I'm getting on the verge of hysteria. No joke, I felt like I was going to break out into nervous giggles at any time. Sunday was a good day, and I thought that was that, so to speak. God had clearly given three different confirmations that yes, the mission trip was still supposed to be a thing. Good to know God, thank you so much! , and by the way, you're totally awesome. In the literal, dictionary definition sense of the word. I was not expecting anything more - totally satisfied and overwhelmed by what I had seen and experienced that day.
God hasn't finished yet, though.On Friday, I get a phone call. A phone call from REI, one of the companies I more recently applied to, but didn't feel entirely certain of my performance in the second interview. After all, the competition had been 150 people trying to get 20 part time, seasonal positions.
But anyways, REI calls. They want to hire me. Can I come in on the 6th to meet my new manager?
And then today, Sunday, the 26th, Berg's friend is at church once again. She has brought more money, specifically as a contribution towards my mission trip - the last was, apparently, just a free will offering to God in thanksgiving for her job.
At this point, I really have no words left. My >>MIND<< is officially >>BLOWN<<