"The choices we make change
the story of our life." ©

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Having a Respite

Day Four of Seven
August 24, 2006
Guest Blogger: Charles Gibson

As a college student, I had a part time job working on campus as a janitor. It was two nights a week. The building where I cleaned was called Nazareth Hall, an ornate structure that was the oldest on campus. In that building was the college chapel, which was a beautiful marble sanctuary that was booked with weddings every weekend, and the college banquet hall, the Blue Room, which was cleverly painted (you guessed it) blue.

Sometimes I would work Friday nights, which often meant that we, the work-study janitorial crew, could look forward to whatever food was left over after a banquet, usually chicken with plum sauce and rice pilaf. But if the function was hosted by the college president or board of trustees, then the steak and lobster (our crew was in tight with the "chefs" that prepared the Blue Room meals) was the culinary highlight of the year, at least for college students living on mac and cheese and top ramen. After all the guests in their suits and dresses had left, we would file in with our t-shirts and blue jeans, park our vacuums, and partake of our own feast. It was food that would have gone to waste anyway. Why worry about sending it to hungry children in China, when you have starving American college students to feed?

Then we would vacuum the Blue Room afterward of course.

Sometimes in the midst of the work of cleaning up the messes of life and seeking to become like Christ, God gives us a welcome respite, a break, even a small taste of heaven. For college students who were taking a full class load, working, and trying to figure out life at the same time, it was good to have a somewhat extravagant meal every now and then.

Often the path that God calls us to is hard, but in his grace, he will always give us that good thing at just the right time. Maybe it's a nice meal, or a gift, or time with friends, but often it's more intangible than that.

The greatest gift that God has given us is himself, and sometimes what we need is to experience his presence. Those times when he "shows up" unannounced in a way that seems to have nothing to do with the events of the day. Yet we can look back on those times and realize that the experience of his Holy Spirit is exactly what we needed.

One such time happened in college when I was walking from the dorms to another building for a class. It was an intense time. I was in the middle of breaking free from my family of origin and establishing my own life and identity. Though I never participated myself, multigenerational bondage to the occult on both sides of my family of origin had led to generational strongholds that were very entrenched. My determination to follow God and experience freedom in Christ, led to a prolonged spiritual battle.

I don't remember what I was thinking about at the time, but I can still picture the exact place on the sidewalk and the time of day when God intervened and lifted some of that conflict off of me. Not all of it. I don't know how to explain it other than it felt like some of the load I was carrying was taken away. He had his purpose in using the spiritual battles I was going through to build my character and help me learn to take every thought captive. But I know he didn't want me crushed under the weight of it either. Why he picked that particular place on a Tuesday afternoon, I don't know. There were other times I felt much worse and cried out for him to remove the conflict from me. But he moves in our lives based on our needs not our wants. He wants to build our character more than give relief or comfort. God uses even the respites of life to make us more like him.
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