Sometimes I see God’s love for me in people, even when they may have never intended it.
Sunday morning, I was backstage in between songs at our first church service, while one of the vocalists sang a solo by Martina McBride titled “God’s Will.” Though I was behind the wall, I could hear the words and see the accompanying video. The tender song made me cry. What happened next made me cry even more. One of the other singers, seeing me cry, looked at me and said, “You’re going to make me cry,” and then he reached into his pocket, took out his handkerchief, and offered it to me. I gingerly dabbed at my eyes to dry the tears and ready myself to go back on stage, but I knew it was fruitless. My heart was touched. (I mean, who even carries handkerchiefs anymore, let alone shares one?)
You see, when I was a teenager, I would often cry when God touched my heart. And while God was nudging my heart, I would feel a little tap on my shoulder to find my dad offering me his handkerchief. I would quickly wipe my tears (and probably blow my nose on occasion) and then quickly hand the handkerchief back to him–so he could then wipe his eyes. The things that touched my heart always seemed to touch my dad’s heart too. It was a special bond we shared.
That morning my dad wasn’t with me–because he is with Jesus–but the father heart of God was. And though I cried through the last praise song, it was because I felt surrounded by His love and blessed by the memory of my father.
It was one of those moments I think God orchestrates just to show me a bit of Himself. Earlier this week I saw God revealed–in none other than my professor in my nemesis class, Gaming and Simulations in Education.
I should probably explain that over the summer I took another class that stretched the typical workload of a graduate-level class–and stretched me well beyond my capabilities. That class, Managing Educational Projects, most likely got blasted by my peers in the professor/course review we anonymously complete at the end of the semester. I had thought I would be among those blasting it, but near the end of the course, I knew that I had learned–and that I likely wouldn’t have learned as much had the workload and my abilities not been stretched. And so I didn’t criticize the course.
But I didn’t like it. And the funny thing is that the first week of my current course, I found out that my professor was the one who designed that managing projects course. It was the presage that this course, too, would be what it turned out to be. Stretching.
On my day off from teaching, I had spent the entire time (as usual) on a project for my gaming class. Despite my efforts, I accomplished nothing (my new normal, at least this semester). I had followed a 16-page tutorial on creating a video game in Torque 3D–and all seemed to be going as expected until I reached the last step and found my work missing. I emailed my professor, who sent back various suggestions for finding it, all to no avail. My stomach hurt, I was running a fever (from a virus, not gaming), and I could find nothing of the work I’d completed. I resigned myself that I would need to start from scratch, but then my professor–at 8 p.m.–said he would “meet me” in a Google Hangout to help me find my work. Once there, however, he also determined that my entire file was gone. I would need to start again.
But my professor didn’t leave. Through a lifesaver called CrossLoop, he could not only see my computer desktop but also access it remotely. He stayed with me (via the Internet) every step of the way–for more than an hour–as we in tandem walked through the 16 pages of instructions. He saw for himself the various glitches I encountered, and he instructed me through them. I was thankful he had remained because I surely would have gotten stuck or lost the work again. (I was also thankful he too was surprised by the glitches so that he knew I wasn’t completely incompetent.) Several times, I suggested I could complete the rest on my own so as not to take his time; he insisted on seeing it through until the end.
His willingness to remain to simply make sure I was able to get through the process successfully made me think of what God does for us, which is hilarious, because some of my classmates are certain this professor is the anti-Christ because he asks so much of us.
You know, God asks the impossible of us. The Bible almost flippantly tells us what to do:
- “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (I Peter 1:15).
- “Love your enemies,”
- “Do good to those who hate you,”
- “Bless those who curse you,”
- “Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27).
- “Do not take revenge” (Romans 12:19)
- “Overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
- “…live a life of love” (Ephesians 5:2).
- And the easiest edict, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
Get the picture? Oh yeah, He also listed the Ten Commandments and a bunch of jots and tittles, to make the impossible more pronounced. I can’t even imagine wanting to live in such a manner, except for God. For in asking the impossible, God, like my challenging professor, makes a way for us to succeed:
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
- “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3).
- “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
- and, finally, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Scripture is clear that the God who demands perfection also makes a way for us to meet His standard. I saw a skit nearly 20 years ago that still sticks in my brain. God was portrayed as a judge, and you and me and all mankind were on trial for our lives–because God’s standard was perfection, and we, clearly, didn’t meet that standard and, thus, were guilty. As the gavel came down, so God came down and offered to pay our penalty by substituting the life of His Son for ours–and then giving us the Holy Spirit to enable us to live up to the standard from there on out.
My professor did that for me. He gave me a tough assignment (actually, numerous ones every week), but he saw my efforts (which failed) and gave his time and support to make sure I succeeded. He refused to leave me on my own, even though he had already given me the tools I needed for success (his instruction sheet). And his presence made all the difference.
I went to my teaching job the next day proclaiming, “I saw Jesus yesterday!” and finding myself, again, almost in tears as I shared what my professor had done for me because God had touched my heart through that. No need for a handkerchief at that moment, but my professor’s kindness made me so aware of all God has done for me through His vast love. He loves you too!
(Thank you, Dr. Ritzhaupt, should you ever read this!)