That was the easiest award I ever won. I could hardly have known less when I started. I even flunked the sample question on the cover of the test: "What are the first five books of the Bible called?" I'd never heard of the Pentateuch or the Torah.
I came to Bible School as a pacifist. I challenged one of my Bible teachers with "I can't see Jesus carrying a bayonet!"
He shot back, "Ever read the book of Revelation?"
Before coming to Multnomah, I had given away my two prom dresses, although I would have liked to keep them, and I had my hair cut short, although--because--I felt pretty with it long and wavy. I think I was expecting Bible school to be more of a nunnery. (My future husband, who entered Multnomah the next year, had the same misconceptions. He saw a motorcycle in the college parking lot and judged the rider as "carnal"--only to declare upon getting to know him he was "the most spiritual student in the school.")
I came to Bible school with the simple, unquestioning faith I talked about in my post, "I prayed for a cat." Most of Multnomah's students came from Christian families and had grown up in Sunday School. The zeal had worn off--or had never been there. Once in our after-dinner devotions, someone called out exultantly, as if making a great discovery, "God is still on the throne!" and I thought, Of course He is. Where else would He be? I judged the solid, long-term faithful believers for not being more emotional and evangelistic about Jesus.
When we paused for grace before meals it meant--for me--an interruption in the constant dialogue, or at least monologue, I was having with God. It went something like, "Father, please help Marie get over her cold and--excuse me, Lord, time to thank You for our food--and help Jack to master Greek."
I hung out with other first-generation, newly-saved pagans, like Genie Lombard, who had also become a Christian in Japan, and Dennis Miller, who came to the Lord after breaking his neck in a fall from a trapeze.
Everyone had to pick a "Christian service assignment." I picked the rescue mission. I'd go with a small team who would present a mini-church service to homeless men slumped in pews before they could have their free meal. (I was so gullible one man talked me out of my own lunch, going off with three of my room-mate's Tupperware bowls which I had to replace.)
Only guys could do the preaching. (An unofficial motto for Multnomah men was "Be prepared to preach, pray, or die at a moment's notice.") I wasn't interested in becoming a preacher but I did take homiletics and after my first year of Greek the school hastily ruled that girls could not take two years of Greek, lest they end up with a degree making them eligible to preach.) Girls could "give testimonies," help with children, and sing.
One evening I went with a group which teacher Tom Stanwyck was leading. I was the only girl on the platform with him, the only girl in the room. When the song leader asked everyone to open to hymn whatever-it-was and we started singing, I heard the most beautiful soprano voice--and realized with amazement it was coming out of my mouth! Not only that but I had total control over it. I could vary volume and dynamics, hit notes I was surprised to hit.
I've never been able to sing well, before or since. I was eliminated during solo try-outs breathed shyly into the ear of my second grade piano teacher. Humiliating. Once while swinging and singing alone on a playground I heard a nearby window slam and thought maybe it was personal. I slunk away ashamed.
Now I was caroling with the joy and freedom of a lark. I knew it wasn't me. It was God, gifting me temporarily for His own purposes. I heard later that one of the homeless men--a young one who was new to the mission--came to Christ that night. I assume that was God's purpose for the gift. It was not for me; it was for him.
We also, as a student body, went out once every semester, to take the gospel to our city. We would go door-to-door, two-by-two, with literature. I didn't mind this--I am not saying any of this to criticize the school; I am very grateful for the Bible foundation I received there and have been building on it ever since. I was taking the gospel to every creature I met anyway.
But one semester, as my partner and I passed a house on our way to the blocks to which we had been assigned, I saw a young mother struggling to carry a basket of wet laundry to the clothesline in her back yard. I wanted so much to forget my assignment, go help her hang up the laundry and be her friend. I didn't but I have never forgotten that tug in my spirit and I have given in to similar tugs many times since then.
Today I am thankful for God's gifts through us to others.