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Ebenezer — The Resignation

I now recognize my reaction to that Friday the 13th meeting was much like a battered wife. I was numb. I was trying to be positive, but honestly I was just glad that “beating” was done. I began to brace myself for another horrible year. I didn’t know how I could endure it.

Grant’s response was exactly the opposite. Talk about rising to the occasion! I was stunned. It seemed to me that the Holy Spirit was empowering him in an unusually resilient way. It was impressive. I don’t know if I’ve ever told him that, but wow!

On Saturday, he happened to find a job listing for a male voice faculty position at North Greenville University. He mentioned it to me. I was too numb to respond. Whatever, I thought. Keep dreaming.

On Sunday morning, he leaned out of the shower and said, “Listen. Pray about that. I can’t get that out of my head.” Me? I thought in an Eeyore voice, “Okay. But why bother?”

On Tuesday, he submitted his CV. A week from then he had an interview, an audition, and a job offer. That evening, while the kids romped in the Burger King playground, we just stared at each other. Is this it? Is this what we’re supposed to do? Leave? We put out a fleece, and now it’s soaking wet. It’s a miracle that the position was even open at this late date and it’s a miracle that they want Grant to have it?

We crunched the numbers. He’d earn enough there for me to stay home with only a nominal difference in the pay from our dual incomes at our then-current employer.

But still. We had vowed to ourselves and insisted to God that we couldn’t “break our contract.” That was the ultimate sin in that world. Your name was less than mud if you did that. Derision, disgust, and damnation fell on you if you “broke your contract.” I even know the code in the campus database for those who “break contract.”

It hit me later than Grant, I think, that the cards would always be dealt in their favor on that one. We couldn’t come out with a good reputation in that broken system. They had erected that hedge, so they get to maintain it.

From a Pastor Brooks‘ counsel, we realized that with that ultimatum they had changed our contract. We had complied with every one of their requests — from blog posts about campus food to book recommendations to internet forum participation to dropping accepted chapters from published works. But silencing our conscience was too far. Another friend reminded me of Luther’s admonition that our consciences must only be captive to the Word of God. We could never let the over-sensitive and over-spiritualized indenture to a customer base trump the Holy Spirit. We were taught better.

We were sick about leaving our students. Just sick. But just like when a plane is going down, you’re supposed to put your own oxygen mask on first and your child’s on second (because you are worthless to help him if you are passed out on the floor), we realized that we were no help to them or to our sons if we seared our consciences. They were God’s after all. Not ours. God would take care of them.

But look! God had gone ahead — way ahead — and prepared a place for us. No moving, no enormous upheaval to our lives. So many answers to prayer intersected at this one event. God’s best was right there. For us!

And two weeks from the ultimatum, we resigned. God had pushed us out, but He’d given us a very soft place to land.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Psalm 46:1-3

Ebenezer — The Resignation

14 thoughts on “Ebenezer — The Resignation

  • March 16, 2008 at 8:00 pm
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    God is so good to take you from one place directly into another. May the ministry you and your husband have be multiplied many times over.

  • March 16, 2008 at 10:45 pm
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    I’m sorry to hear about this. These kinds of situations can be very painful and damaging. I pray that you will be able to move on and focus on the grace of God in your lives.

    A grateful student,

    Jason

  • March 16, 2008 at 10:57 pm
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    Hey, Jason!! Keep reading for more proof of that, but I think it’s been refreshing for us both to see that God was there at every step — from burying our child to pushing us out the door of a ministry we were fully committed to. This whole series is that focus! 😀 I just can’t stop smiling about it.

    But stay tuned!

  • March 17, 2008 at 10:49 am
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    Isn’t it amazing? God provides so much and we usually don’t even notice, but in times like these, His Ways really shine! I remember when I was fired from the same institution–within a month, I had a job offer at Barnes and Noble (doing what I loved–working with books!). THEY called ME, too! I hadn’t even remembered that I’d submitted an application for employment almost a year before, but God knew, and God worked, and God provided. I got promoted almost right away, too, and I ended up making way more than I had at BJU (which was good, because for a poor young married couple just starting out, any extra money is extra food on the table!).

    And again, when I was ready for a change but not sure I’d be able to find a job I liked that was close to home, God was already there. The same day I put in my notice at B&N, I had an offer from Crossway, the branch right across the street from our apartment complex. And THEY promoted me and gave me a raise almost right away, too! How amazing is that? Lord, it’s too much! Seriously, never in my wildest dreams would I have even asked for that for myself–it was too good to be true. But that’s how He works. Over and above what we ask or think–those are His blessings!

    Isn’t it just amazing that Grace aboundes, even after our salvation is secured? Because, really, He could have just stopped right there, saved us, and had done with it. But no, He continues to bless us and treat us as His own kids! Now, THAT’S amazing! THAT’S Grace.

  • March 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm
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    I noticed over my years at BJU that they expect more loyalty from faculty and students than they are willing to show in return. Your hesitation to resign and your willingness to comply with their demands are evidence of your commitment. Clearly, that commitment was not reciprocated.
    In contrast, God has demonstrated himself faithful and gracious when you and Grant were battered by a disloyal and graceless system.

  • March 18, 2008 at 2:27 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I remember thinking, right before I left, “If that’s Christianity, they can have it.” I was truly in shock when I matriculated to a small, United Methodist, liberal arts college and found more true Christianity there than at BJU. When I then transferred to a state school, I found even more evidence of true Christianity. What I experienced at both North Carolina Wesleyan College and Appalachian State University was a Christianity that developed a nurturing and caring side and was not dependent on archaic rules and dress codes.

    Imagine a world where people want others to SEE Christ in their lives. And, just think, you can wear jeans, go to movies, have long hair (for the guys) and listen to rock music. The people I encountered were full of grace.

    There’s a great line in the movie CHAPLIN, where Chaplin tells Douglas Fairbanks that the USA, “…is a good country underneath.” Fairbanks replies, “No, it’s a good country on top.” That’s how I feel about most of fundamentalist Christianity – it’s good on the surface.

  • March 26, 2008 at 12:48 pm
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    Reading and thankful that God was taking care of you throughout this journey.

  • March 19, 2009 at 3:27 am
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    I’m a former BJU student and am familiar with both you and your husband from when I was there years ago. I didn’t realize that you two were no longer with BJU, but I want you to know that reading through your blog/testimony here has been an incredible encouragement to my heart. God bless your family for opening your heart to His voice and direction.
    WOW, so glad I came across this site.

  • April 16, 2009 at 1:51 am
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    Found your blog by complete accident. I’ve read through your BJU-related stuff. You’ve got a sharp mind. Impressive. I was there for a while too. Early ’80s. I was an “acad” senior the first year and made it through October of my sophmore year before BJ filed for divorce claiming irreconcilable differences. I was sent by my father originally because my mother was suddenly diagnosed with schizophrenia. I had an Uncle that was a preacher boy there in the 50’s. He recommended the place. BJ Academy’s live-there style seemed to dad to be the ticket. Big mistake. I was so eager and excited too, for a while. Didn’t take long for me to stumble into the cross hairs, though. It would’ve helped if I’d had some kind of warning or a background with fundametalism. Once when I was a sophmore, (post-BJU) my 3 roommates and I got a suitcase of Mickey’s Malt Liquor and a pint of peppermint schnapps. Excellent time. For a while. That night I must have thrown up a half dozen times. After I sobered up, the very smell of malt liquor or peppermint made me want to wretch. I’ve never touched the stuff again in 24 years. Bob Jones did exactly the same thing to me. I’ve never gone back to church since. Early release for time served! Anyway, I think you’re handling things very well. I didn’t have the internet or anyone to talk to back then. I had uncontrollable bad memories come into my head and frequent nightmares about the place well into my 30’s. I realize now that those people at BJU don’t really have much to do at all with Jesus. It’s all okay because they only act that way because they don’t know any better. Now, I just feel sorry for them. In time, maybe you’ll feel the same way. Keep writing the blog. I’ll bet it helps.

  • September 2, 2009 at 5:20 pm
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    Dan, I felt the same way when I left, “If this is Christianity, I want nothing more to do with it!” The Lord graciously took me to a wonderful group of people who demonstrated REAL Christianity ! I have never been the same since, though the healing is a long process. Even today, some 35 years later, I hesitate to go on that campus. It is still chilling ~

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