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.