Tyler's Divine Opportunity
The following divine opportunity story from Tyler, a recent college graduate, highlights this notion of living intentionally and allowing for spontaneity, even when it comes at unexpected times. He writes:
To give you a little bit of backstory, I just graduated college and for the last couple of months I had been pursuing resident life positions in higher education for the coming fall. I had been looking at graduate programs at campuses across the country that would offer me a resident director position in the dorms working with undergraduates while I pursue a master’s degree in higher education. I went to a conference for this particular area of interest in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, where I met with representatives from Mississippi State University. At the end of it all, they invited me for a second round of on-campus interviews. It was looking pretty good.
I went to Mississippi for the on-campus interview and had a great time and everything went really well. The only issue for me was that I had just spent the last two years at Azusa Pacific University in southern California surrounded by palm trees, beautiful weather, and a nearby ocean. And Mississippi is no California. The university is in the small town of Starkville, the ocean is not very close in comparison, and the nearest airport is two hours away. On the last morning of this trip to Mississippi, I was driving back to the airport and thinking, “I don’t know if I can do this.” I really enjoyed my trip and the people at the university, and I knew that God could use me there, but I was held back by the idea of spending two years in a remote town in a new part of the country where I didn’t know anyone. On the drive to the airport, I received a phone call from the university telling me that I got the position and that they would love to have me there in the fall. I was feeling good about the position but hesitant about the overall move to Mississippi.
When I arrived at my gate at the airport I realized that my flights from Jackson to Dallas and from Dallas to LA had been cancelled for maintenance reasons. At this point, I was exhausted and ready to sleep, so I was kind of bummed that I had this major delay. But at the same time, I saw an elderly African-American man who was incredibly joyous and full of life, and he was chatting it up with everyone. His good mood was putting me in a better mood.
As I approached the desk to figure out how and when I was going to get back home, this man came over and introduced himself to me. He asked me what brought me to Mississippi, how I was doing, and what my passions were. I told him about the resident director position at the university and the purpose of my trip, and since he asked about my passion I gave him an honest reply. I told him that although I was excited about the position, my main passion was following Christ and I had a call on my life for men’s ministry and working with men to help them truly live for Christ.
As I shared all of that, I looked at him and he just had the biggest smile on his face. He said, “I want you in my state. I’m going to be praying for you.” I thanked him, and asked where he was traveling. He said that he was going to speak at Biola University, which is a Christian university near the one I attend in California. I asked him what his name was and what he was speaking about. He told me his name was John Perkins. And I just thought, “Holy smokes, this is stinkin’ John Perkins!” I realize not everyone knows who that is, but this guy is a huge deal to me. If someone asked me if I could have dinner with any three people in the world, who would it be? John Perkins would be one of my three. He is the leader of church integration in the US, has had an amazing life living for Christ, and he has the most incredible life story. He is now eighty-four years old, and more joyous and happy than anyone I’ve ever met.
As it turned out, we were on the same flights for the rest of the day, which were significantly delayed. I decided to grab a table to get something to eat and invited him and his assistant to join me for lunch. I got to pray for John Perkins’s meal! I was able to sit and talk with him for an hour and half to two hours. John Perkins sat and talked with me about ministry and grace the whole time. Toward the end of our conversation, he said to me, “Tyler, if I’m still living when you get to Mississippi, I want to come alongside you and do ministry with you.” To me that’s like a superhero saying that he wants to work with me. I was just like, “God, what are You doing?” It was incredible. It was as if God sent His servant John to intervene in my trip, to speak truth to me, and encourage me about being in Mississippi for a reason.
I left that feeling like, “Yeah, I have a lot of fears, but I’m not going to shy away from what God is doing here.” I went from just wanting to sleep on an airplane to meeting John Perkins and having the most amazing conversation. Honestly, if the flights hadn’t been delayed, and the flight plan would have carried out as normal, I probably would have got right on the flight and immediately fallen asleep. I was so tired and ready to get back home that I don’t think I would have ever recognized him or had a conversation with him. And now I’m happy to tell you that I have officially decided to move to Mississippi and take on this new adventure.