Monday, April 16, 2012

Faith in a Phone Booth

Some years ago, I was finishing a long and unpleasant year at a school where I felt I just did not fit. I had been sending out resumes, making phone calls, networking, and praying, but so far, nothing.

By the end of May, I was resigned to returning to the same school the next fall. I didn't want to, but with no other jobs on the horizon, I couldn't see any other choice. I couldn't afford to be jobless.

Early in June, my dear friend, the pastor's wife, told me about a women's quadrennial meeting in Indiana. Someone who had already paid to go discovered that she needed heart surgery, and couldn't go. She wanted someone to take her place, at her expense.

It was just three days before the deadline for me to resign. (Teachers in Texas have to resign at least 45 days before the beginning of the new year.) Wick and I discussed the situation, and he encouraged me to take the trip. He felt that it would give me spiritual renewal, and strength to face the next school year.

It was a two-day bus trip to Purdue University campus, where the quadrennial would be held.
By the time we arrived, I already had a message from Wick.

That summer was one of the hottest on record in Indiana, and the campus rooms had no air conditioning. I wasn't sure I wanted to stay, but had no way to get home.

I called Wick, happy to hear his voice. He said he had a phone call from a principal who wanted to interview me. We arranged for me to be in a certain phone booth the next day at noon.

Let me tell you, standing in a phone booth in the broiling sun is no fun. But I waited for the call. When the phone rang, my heart rate went up about 100%.

The principal spent twenty minutes telling me about the program, a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program for kids who in the past would have been expelled from their home schools.

He finally stopped to ask if I had any questions. I asked a few about the program. He still had not asked me about myself or my experience as a teacher.

Then he said, "I want to offer you this position."
I said, "Unfortunately, I am in Indiana right now for a church women's conference, and won't be home until 7 days from now--too late for me to resign then."

He said, "I am offering you this job right now. I've talked to your references, and spent about 45 minutes talking to your husband. I have known for a year that this position was going to be open, and I have been praying all that time that God would send the right person. I am convinced that you are the right person. If you will fax me your letter of resignation, I will hand deliver it to make sure it gets there in time."

At that moment, I felt I was hearing the voice of God, telling me to take that job. Wick and all my family had been praying, as well as all the women from my church who were on the trip with me.

So I stepped out on faith, and said yes. I faxed my resignation letter to a man I had never met, and would not meet until the beginning of the school year.

My heart was pounding in my chest as I dialed our home phone number.

I told Wick what I had done.
He said, "What will you be teaching?"
I said, "I don't know."
He said, "How much will you be making?"
I said, "I don't know."
He said, "Jan!?!"
I said, "Honey, when God speaks to you in a phone booth in Indiana, you just have to do what He is telling you to do."

My reward for stepping out on faith was seven years with a Christian principal, and a staff which was, with one exception, committed Christians. The students could be extremely challenging, but with their background of disciplinary problems, that was to be expected.

On days when I got discouraged, I reminded myself that God had sent me there, and would not put more on me than He would give me strength to meet.

Even now, after so many years, I still think it sounded crazy to entrust my future to a man I never met. But he was a Christian brother I just had not met yet.