More than forty years ago when I needed University-approved housing at the last minute, I took a cancellation at a boarding house in Champaign. One of those accidental roommates in that small triple room was God’s intentional means to draw me into his heart. This excerpt from my memoir, Trading Fathers, describes our first encounter:
“When I returned to Leeman Lodge, the roommate who’d claimed the single bed was kneeling next to it on the floor. She had long brown hair, lively brown eyes, and a full mouth. She glanced up and smiled. “Hi, I’m Mercedes. I’m praying. I’ll be with you in twenty minutes.”
“I’m Karen.” She probably saw my face fall before I ducked behind the chest that separated her bed from the bunks. I sat on the lower bunk, my head in my hands. Praying, huh? Right.
Jerry had warned me about those “Jesus freaks.” He’d gone up to DeKalb, to Northern Illinois University, to sell some handmade ceramic incense burners to the head shops. The Jesus freaks had accosted him and wouldn’t stop bothering him. Though he’d also been raised a Catholic, like me, he had stopped going to mass. Neither of us thought Jesus had anything to offer us.
I had, however, intensified my search for truth since that suicidal crisis on the day I first talked to Jerry. I had not yet heard “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free,” but I instinctively longed to know what reality was solid enough to build a life on. But I was sure Jesus wasn’t it.”
I was nineteen years old and knew I was right. God was unknowable.
But God knew my proud and broken heart and within the next year, Jesus revealed himself to me. In the intervening years, God has convinced me he’s not only knowable, but lovable. The God revealed in his Son is the solid foundation of my life. Sometimes he’s confusing, he’s always mysterious, and occasionally, he’s confrontational. He’s also gentle, humble, and kind. I owe him everything.
What’s your story?
Father, thank you for Jesus and for the Holy Spirit who reveals truth to our hearts. Help us to hear your voice and sense your smile today.