Adjusting to a New World
When I first arrived at Pensacola Christian College as a freshman in fall 2013 it was a whole new world for me. I was an only child and my parents were worried I’d be homesick and panic, but to their surprise, I adjusted really well. I made my first friend only seconds from walking into the registration room. He was the first student I met on campus. He was a Taiwanese freshman named Caleb and he was on a desperate search for a sim card. I can only imagine how stressful it would be to be sent on a plane halfway across the world to go to college. No friends, no sim card, no access to the internet, and no way to google something for help! We directed him on how to get access to the local mall to get a sim card from Verizon and I got all registered and settled in. Caleb would eventually meet up with me again and be a part of my early friend group.
I settled into my room which was on the top floor of the Ballard dorm, the second to last door on the right. (Not before being accidentally given a wrong room number and accidentally leaving my stuff in the wrong room, much to the confusion of those who actually lived there… awkward…) Each dorm room housed four people. I was unlucky enough to have one of the rooms called a “suite” which shared a bathroom with the next room over. That meant my room and the last room on the hall had to share a single bathroom. That’s one toilet and shower for eight guys!
I eventually got all settled in. My friend group grew and we formed a meeting place to eat dinner every day. Eventually, more people joined and friends of friends became my friends as well. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by great people to laugh with, procrastinate on homework with, and have good times with. It was pretty great!
(My room at the end of the semester after my roommates moved out)
Living the Suite Life
One day a few weeks into my first semester my pal Brandon and I left dinner and were walking back to our dorms at the same time. This had never happened before. Somehow, we both ended up at the same dorm.
“Oh! You live in Ballard too” Brandon said to me.
“Yeah, I guess I never thought to ask if you were in the same dorm” I replied and chuckled.
We went into the dorms and walked up the stairs. Somehow we ended up on the same floor.
“Oh, we’re on the same floor too!” I said surprised.
We proceeded to walk down the hall. Now, my room was the second to last room in the hall so I fully expected Brandon to stop walking down the hall at any time. But No, I end up stopping first at my door. Brandon continues walking to the next door down.
“No way,” I said, “You are messing with me”
Brandon opens the door next to mine and stops.
“No, this is my room,” He says.
“We are suitemates!? What!? How did I not know this?” I replied.
Brandon pauses for a second and then said confusedly, “Wait, you are the person your roommates keep trash talking? You aren’t as bad as they said!”
“As bad?” I replied “thanks for reassurance…”
As I rolled my eyes and he said, “You know what I meant!”
I decided that since I knew Brandon I’d go and meet his other roommates to see if there were any other surprises. That’s when I met his two other roommates, Terrance and Sean. Sean was an average guy, a writing major who I quickly found was fond of his local baseball team. Terrance was a Bible major like me, a senior who was very excited to hear I was interested in Biblical language studies. Terrance was full of energy and excitement, he was a self-proclaimed Charismatic, not in his theology, but in his belief that the spirit of God was actively working among men.
“There’s one thing you have to know about me,” he said that day, “I’m a bit of a Charismatic, not the denomination, but- I love to talk about the Holy Spirit! No one talks about the Spirit in our churches anymore, and we’re missing out on seeing the power of God do things in our lives because of it.”
I’m not going to lie, the quirky attitude and immediate jump to Charismatics made me a bit skeptical, but after he quickly showed me some tips on how to get into Greek and Hebrew studies through BlueLetterBible.com and we started to chat, I saw he was a very sincere person. I thought little of what he had said in his introduction, but little did I know his somewhat jesting words would greatly affect my life and perspective forever.
The Miracle of White Glove
Skipping forward a couple of months we came to an event that PCC calls “White Glove” This is a bi-semester event where PCC has all students clean their rooms top to bottom to ensure the messier students don’t live in total filth. It gets its name from the original way the college checked to see if you pass the cleaning review. In the former days of the college, an RA would come to your room with a white glove and run his fingers over different parts of the room. If he could see dirt on the white glove, you would immediately fail. While the literal white glove of white-glove had been long gone and been left in the annals of PCC history and legend its spirit was very much alive. If any dirt or dust was found at all it was an immediate fail and you would have to clean again, a second failure would result in a $50 charge per roommate and there were only 30 minutes to reclean for the second check. Once the loudspeaker comes on and the Residence Manager says to leave your rooms for the check, that’s it, there’s no more time to clean. If they catch you in your room cleaning when they walk in, it’s an auto-fail. The stakes were high, it was no time to mess around. $50 could buy you a lot of ramen, and no one wanted to face the fine. It takes the whole room working together to get a room in tip-top shape, one person lagging behind could be the difference between a pass or charge.
That takes us to my first White Glove and the miracle that happened that day. My room was working together to clean and we made great headway. Focused on our troubles we paid no attention to the suitemates who lived on the other side of the bathroom. Unbeknownst to us, all three of them lay asleep in the room next door. Each one of the three either assuming the other set an alarm or unwillingly have fallen asleep themselves. They all were awoken at once to the sound of an announcement, “It’s time for White Glove check. Please leave your room and head into the hall.” Suddenly there was a commotion in the room next door so I go to check it out. All three of them are panicking.
“I thought you set an alarm!” Each one said to the other,
“I didn’t mean to fall asleep!” said Sean.
It was chaos.
Brandon stated hopefully “Maybe we can still pass?”
I looked around the room. It was, to be quite frank, pretty disgusting. The mirror on the wall had water streaks on it, there were dust bunnies on the desk, the trash was not taken out, half-eaten bags of food were on their beds, and the real kicker, a slightly moldy orange that they found under the bed in their panic and had since dropped and left on the floor. Each one of these would be an automatic fail and there’s no way they could clean it.
“What do we do!?” Brandon says confused.
I quickly replied to Brandon, “Bro, there is no way you can get this clean and no way you could get this place in shape in the 30 minutes between first and second check.
Terrance chimed in, “Guys there’s only one thing we can do… We have to pray.”
I kind of chuckled to myself as Terrance and the others huddled into a circle like you would as a team before a sports game. I stayed for a bit and listened and then started to head out. While I was there I heard Terrance pray.
“Lord, we messed up. We were not responsible and we did not prepare ourselves properly to do what we were supposed to. I know we don’t deserve to pass White Glove but at this point, there is nothing we can do to fix our mistake. The only thing we can do is to ask you to forgive us and help us. Lord, blind the eyes of the RA who checks this room and do not allow him to see our mess. We promise to be more responsible in the future..”
At this point I was out of earshot and thinking to myself he was pretty crazy to ask for such a thing. We all went out into the hall and awaited the RA’s review of our rooms. While we sat in the hall Terrance asked his roommates.
“Wait, did either of you pick up the orange on the floor?”
Brandon and Sean looked at each other a bit concerned. Sean nodded his head no and Brandon laughed and said, “uhh, Nope!”
I lost it, I laughed out loud, and said, “You guys are doomed! You left a molding orange in plain sight on the floor during White Glove! There’s no way you’ll pass!”
Terrance grinned to himself quietly and said quietly, “oh, I don’t know about that”
The all-clear went over the loudspeaker and we each entered our rooms. My roommates beat me into our room and when I got there it was not a happy sight. We had failed, there was one comment on the review paper. Only one thing was out of place. In clear handwriting on the paper, it said, “Failed: Eyelash on desk” My mind was blown, I couldn’t believe we could have failed for something so trivial. However, my mind fiendishly thought of the people next door. “Oh boy,” I thought, “If we failed for this, I can’t imagine how bad the guys next door failed!” As I was walking over to Terrance’s room I heard them yelling and as I got through the door I realized it was not yelling, but cheering. When I walk in, I find them jumping up and down bouncing around the room in excitement.
“We passed!” Brandon says to me,
“But how!?” I asked,
Terrance replied in excitement, “God blinded their eyes so they couldn’t see the mess!”
For better or worse I responded quickly out of jealousy and pointed at the molded orange.
“There’s a moldy orange right HERE in the MIDDLE of the floor!” There are dust bunnies on the desk. I can see them from all the way over here. How could he not see it!? It’s literally impossible!”
I walked over to the paper and, sure enough, it was signed as passed. The same person who failed my room had somehow checked their room and been unable to see any one of the dozens of failable offenses. I was in awe. The same man who failed me for something as small as an eyelash was unable to see any of the problems with this room? I had no other way to explain it, God had done something in this room tonight. It was not for something significant, there was no life-threatening disease or prayer for salvation from a life or death situation. It was something as trivial as a $50 fee over a dirty room. It was a humble request from a repentant heart that believed in the power of God to work in his daily life. I then understood what he meant by his Charismatic attitude. I now recognized that this man knew how to respond to the Almighty in times of shortcoming and call on the power of God for rescue.
My roommates and I returned to our room and cleaned up. We passed the second check and the Residence Manager apologized to us for failing us over something so trivial. It turns out the RA had been overly strict in his checks and failed many rooms that should have passed. This statement stuck in my mind, as all I could do was remember the next room over who passed against all odds.
What I Learned from That Day
That day changed my perspective on prayer. I had seen God come through by preventing rain from ruining a church event, I had seen the prayers of families change the lives of their relatives, and I had seen prayer put food on people’s tables, and I have even seen prayer heal people against all odds! But what I had not seen was prayer completely and utterly against impossible odds come through for someone over something so mundane and seemingly unimportant. What explanation was there except that this man who claimed to have an understanding of the Spirit of God truly did understand the Spirit of God and had a relationship with Him in a way that made God come through for Him. I remember being so confused and amazed that night. Shortly before I left the room for the night, I calmed down and I asked him a second time, “But how!?” I will always remember his simple and short response, “That’s the power of prayer man, what else can I say?”
What else can be said?
James 5:16-18 says,
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
This verse tells us that Elijah was a man like us and God answered His prayers, so God can do the same thing for us. I had the verse stored somewhere in my mind, but I did not have it practically applied to my life. I limited prayers to “being spiritual,” praying for desperate needs, and other people’s crises. I never asked for something mundane or something that seems silly to ask God to show up for in my life. I assumed God was not interested in the mundane and that it would be selfish of me to ask. But it turns out God is interested in the mundane because He has a vested interest in us as His children. I think we all know that nothing is too big for God. But have we also remembered, that nothing is too small?