On The Walls

I watched the construction crew hoist a steel beam into my sagging ceiling and begin to cover the beam with plasterboard. After that came the painters. At the end of the day, the most important part of my home was buried beneath artistic swirls of plaster. My guests might compliment me on the cedar shake shingles or cute shutters, but none of them could guess that deep inside the bowels of my home there stood a giant steel beam, holding everything else in place.

As I stood, watching the construction, I thought back to when I was a twelve year old cadet at Culver Military Academy. My parents were visiting, and as we walked together through the Culver Inn lobby, I caught the attention of Margaret, a young Christian, working at the front desk. At that moment, Margaret heard the voice of the Living God Of Israel speak to her, in the depth of her heart.

“Pray for that boy every day until you hear he’s saved.”

The young clerk quickly found out who I was and began the work that The Lord had given her to do. She started immediately and prayed through the week, through the next few months and over the summer recess.

By then I had started using drugs; my parents separated and I became a teen age alcoholic.

Margaret continued to pray for me daily throughout my second year at Culver, as I was introduced to the drug culture of the sixties. Margaret prayed right up to my last day of class, when I was asked to leave the school. It seemed it wasn’t a good fit for me.

As my drug abuse escalated and I drifted into radical politics, Margaret continued asking God to reveal Himself to me. The day I fought with the police at the Chicago National Convention, Margaret was praying. The day I burglarized a university print shop with an undercover FBI agent, she asked God to save me. When I was 16 years old, selling drugs on the streets of Haight Ashbury, Margaret was asking God to have mercy on me and give me grace. The day I lay paralyzed on my bed from a drug overdose, unable to move a muscle, Margaret was on her knees before the throne of God, on my behalf. Every lonely day I spent hitch-hiking across the country, at times without a dime; every day I ate out of a garbage can, or food left on a restaurant plate, or made my home in a field, Margaret was asking the God who stretched out the heavens to stretch out his hand and protect me.

The day I was robbed on the interstate, the day I was kidnapped in Denver, and the day a driver picked me up and told me God had sent him to give me a ride, Margaret was in her prayer closet, asking The Lord to remember me.

And on the very day I told God I needed to know if He was real, on that day when I demanded He reveal Himself to me, when I screamed out to God to help me, to save me from my own darkened heart; the very day the heavens opened and I saw, in an instant, that my whole life I had been sinning against only Him, and that He loved me with the depths of His heart; that His Word was truth itself, and that Jesus was His Son; the very day God filled me with His Holy Spirit, Margaret was asking God, once again, to save me.

In my life, many people see the exciting things that God has allowed me to do, people see prosperity and my giftings from God. But no one sees the steel beam of a faithful woman of God who gave a part of her life to me, so that my life would be held by the hand of the Living God for more than fourteen years.

In the Body of Christ, there are beams of steel, who protect us, hold our lives together and fill us with the blessings of God. They may not be very charismatic or vocal. They may be some of the most uncomely people we meet. But without them, our lives would sag, shift and break apart, as surely as my house was doing before we put that steel beam in, to hold our home together.

Margaret continued to pray for me for three more years, after I met the God of Israel. When I was twenty-seven, a Christian brother, who wrote for the Indianapolis Star, wrote an article on my ministry to inner-city kids. Margaret read the article and called me. We met. She had prayed for me that very day.

It is now my turn to be the steel beam in the lives of others. I pray I find the courage and grace to do for them what Margaret has done for me.