Thursday, February 21, 2008

Young, dumb and redeemed

When I was in college, a briefly dated a boy, I’ll call him Skippy. Even though, for the record, I dumped him, Skippy and I would date on and off throughout my twenties. One summer, he asked me out and made eyes at me just enough to strongly rekindle my romantic notions and then he went back to Prague, Czech Republic, where he was a missionary. A missionary. Could it be any more dreamy? Surely we were meant to be!

Many long, deep emails and invitations to visit him later, I had amassed enough frequent flier miles to go. I was teaching and had my summers off, so I intended to spend a month in Prague, one of the most romantic cities in the world, with Skippy the missionary. His friend ran a hostel there where I could stay. It was just so perfect. Surely we were meant to be!

Only one problem, I never prayed about it. In fact I avoided praying about it. I never had the guts to flat out ask God if I should go to Prague. Why ask him, when it was so surely meant to be? Ignoring him had not prevented him from giving me many messages that said, “Are you kidding? You’re still going??” I pretended not to hear them.

A couple of weeks before my already scheduled journey, Skippy sent me an awkward email. Turns out he was kinda seeing this girl there, and um, he just thought I should know, even though we were just friends, you know, um, just FYI.

Well, we were just friends anyway. I mean, we had been friends for years. Who cared if he was seeing someone? Not I. Nope. I was just going because the blatant opportunist in me wasn’t about to turn down a free trip to Europe. I was a big girl. No biggie. Who cares?

In a hall of fame dumb decision, I got on a plane to Prague.

Poor Skippy, who could never be described as a ladies’ man, was in a very awkward position. As much as I tried to pretend things were normal, they just weren’t. And Skippy had no idea how to handle the delicate situation so he did what so many guys will do when dealing with the fairer sex – he acted like a complete and utter jerk. He would literally quit talking when I entered the room. It was excruciating. Never mind my romantic notions, he wasn’t even being nice to me. So much for our ‘friendship.’ And it wasn’t like I could just go home, I was in PRAGUE! Couldn’t even call a girlfriend! And – are you sitting down – I didn’t even have email. (In Skippy's defense, he was in a crazy situation in a very spiritually oppressive country. While this was not one of his shining moments, he really is a good guy.)

I knew no one, in such a tense, hostile environment that I had created for myself. All alone, except for God. Watermark’s song “Welcome to Delaware” would not get out of my head: All you really have here now is Me.

I was also quite jetlagged and turns out morning devotions are no problem for me when I am jetlagged. I woke up each morning at 5am and turned to my only friend in town – God. He was always up and waiting for me.

I knew I had messed up so bad. I was in such a crummy situation, and I knew it was 100% my fault. Humility was my only response. God was there.

He ministered to me through his word, Psalm 119, which happens to be written directly to dumb girls who go after unavailable boys in former Communist nations. Don’t believe me? Look at what it says:

5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!

6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
Oh, I could have used a little less shame

10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.

19 I am a stranger on earth definitely

22 Remove me from scorn and contempt

24 Your statutes are my delight, they are my counselors
cause I have no other friends!

26 I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.
Please, please, don't ever let me be this stupid again

28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

35-36 Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight
Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. like dumb boys

67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.

76 May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.

113 I hate double-minded men, but I love your law. Hahaha!

134 Redeem me from the oppression of men, that I may obey your precepts. Amen and amen

147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; Jetlagged!
I have put my hope in your word.

The theme of this Psalm is, I love your law, please just teach me to obey it, the world has abandoned me, my enemies surround me, your law is all I have. It summed up my life perfectly.

Of course, I survived. Not only did I survive but I left Skippy and Prague and went on a little trip to a town called Cesky Krumlov, one of the most beautiful, pristine towns in the world. And my Friend, my only Friend, the God who sees, sent me joy. As soon as I got on the train, alone and depressed, an Australian girl flopped in who talked a mile a minute. We decided to find a hostel together, and there God sent to me the absolute funniest backpackers in Europe. I spent several days with the Aussie, two Canadians, and one Scottish guy who made me laugh so hard I was in pain. Humor is such sweet medicine – especially when you know it was sent from God.

When I returned to Prague, several kids from Skippy’s church came over for a mission trip. I was surrounded by sweet, hilarious teenagers and their youth leader Collette – finally, a sympathetic girlfriend who was appalled at Skippy and felt sorry for me! Blessings.

I actually did end up having a great time in Prague. So much fun, that I think it irritated the heck out of Skippy. Humph.

Despite my sins, despite my obstinace, despite my recalcitrance, my gracious God was my Comfortor. He never once said I told you so, and he redeemed me from my own stupidity. What a friend we have in Jesus.

64 The earth is filled with your love, O LORD;

teach me your decrees.

Tune in for Part 2 tomorrow.


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