When Ruth Karlsson came to our church to talk about prison ministry, she spoke ten words that changed my life. No joke. Ruth told us that she used to have a regular job, a nine-to-five gig where she’d go in and do the things listed on her job description. It wasn’t a bad job. It just didn’t “feed” her.
Somehow – I don’t remember the details – Ruth got involved in prison ministry. She’d go to her nine-to-five and then volunteer in the prisons. The more she volunteered, the more she liked it. One day, Ruth told us as she stood behind the pulpit in front of our congregation, she said to God, “I’d like to do prison ministry full time for you.”
Those ten words came and sat down next to me in the pew and they behaved like children who have ants in their pants. They wiggled and squirmed and they kept bumping into me. I’d give them “the look” or press my index finger to my lips, hoping to hush them and settle them down – make them behave. But they were persistent. I think they’d had doughnuts for breakfast.
“You can say stuff like that to God?” I found myself asking me, and the commotion from those ten words sitting next to me drowned out the Voice of Reason I’d become so accustomed to.
I couldn’t get those ten words to be quiet. They went home with me and jumped on the sofa and when I woke up the next morning, they were perched on my pillow, sticking feathers in my ears. So I said something that sounded like this: “God, if it’s okay with you, and if it doesn’t mess up your plans or the world or whatever, I’d like to work for you full time at JumpingTandem. I’d like to introduce women to true community through social media and retreats and service and conversation.” After I said that, those ten words settled down.
That was on January 30. The very next week, I received a phone call that was a direct answer to that weak but heartfelt prayer. Things like that don’t happen to me. It made me think that maybe God just wanted me to ask. Last Thursday I hugged my friends at the insurance company and told them good-bye because it turns out that yes, you can say stuff like that to God.
I’ve made peace with those ten words. They have become trusted friends, always encouraging me to live on the edge and to take risks and to follow my heart and my dreams and my passion. I thought maybe I’d send them over to your house today. I wonder if you’d like to spend a bit of time with them, letting them skip through your flower beds and slide across your hardwood floors in their socks? What would those ten words sound like for you?
Hanging out with Jennifer today…