[NOTE: Often when we hear “mentoring,” we only think of the one-on-one kind. However, it struck me recently that I had been mentored by many women who never knew my name. I heard them speak or read their books and through their words, they mentored me. This series which will be posted occasionally includes some of the lessons we can learn when we receive Words from the Wise.]
Many years ago I attended the Tennessee Valley Women’s Retreat and heard Jeanette Clift George speak. This talented Christian author, Bible teacher, and actress, best known for her role as Corrie Ten Boom in the movie The Hiding Place, proved her expertise as a platform speaker from the moment she opened her mouth.
With her wit and acted-out stories, Jeannette kept her audience wiping their eyes and laughing until they held their sides. But her stories also had spiritual points—driven home with a refreshing honesty. She freely admitted that she had spent much of her life feeling as if she “just didn’t fit in.” With such candid admissions of failure, she gained our empathy, and we were not afraid to admit the same feelings and failures. For a time it was as if she were sitting across a table talking with each of us friend to friend.
Jeanette spoke about “life in the rapids.” I bought her book Travel Tips from a Reluctant Traveler and was glad to find it full of wit and wisdom. In it she writes:
“The Christian life is joyous. However, it isn’t always easy….One morning I was on my way to work after a previous day that had been very difficult. Months earlier, I had taken an executive training seminar. The consultants had advised, ‘In times of stress, remove everything that is not urgent from your desk.’ I had, but it hadn’t made any difference.
“I’d decided to leave home an hour early that morning so I could get started on the remnants of yesterday’s work, but that seemed a hopeless cause. Traffic was bad. The car in front of me was driving too close to me [think about that for a moment!]. I cried out ‘Oh, Lord! Slow everything down.’ I realized God would say to me, ‘Jeannette, don’t ask Me to slow down the rapids. The nature of the rapids is that they are rapid.’ God’s action toward us isn’t always to change the nature of our dilemma. Instead, He gives us principles that work within the dilemma, principles to keep us afloat in the rapids.”
In one of her messages Jeannette mentioned how as an actress she must learn scripts. Not having a good memory required her to repeat the lines over and over. One day it occurred to her that if we are repeating our problems over and over to ourselves and others we may be memorizing them and therefore making them a part of the script of our daily lives.
Jeannette admitted that she is sometimes confused as to why God uses the methods He does. For instance, what happened at the 1975 world premiere of The Hiding Place seemed illogical—at first. World Wide Pictures (an arm of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association) held the gala premiere in Hollywood, hoping to get a lot of publicity for the picture. But the word was out: it was a Christian film! The media stayed away in droves.
The movie’s stars attended the premiere, as well as Billy Graham and Corrie Ten Boom herself. As soon as the crowd was settled in the theater, a puff of smoke went up in front of the screen. Someone had thrown a grenade containing mustard gas into the theater. Everyone was evacuated to the sidewalk. Several people were taken to hospitals because of the fumes.
Billy Graham asked the crowd to wait outside the theater in hopes that it would soon be safe to continue the premiere. The elegantly-dressed crowd stood outside the theater and sang to pass the time. Finally it was announced that the premiere would have to be cancelled. The gas had so penetrated the carpet that it was unsafe to enter the theater.
The media had disdained to cover the premiere of a Christian movie. But, from the moment the news had gone out about the gas bomb, they were there with cameras rolling. The next day a movie that could not get publicized was the main topic of conversation on network news shows all over the world. As Jeannette said, “God can make even the wrath of man to praise Him.”
Jeannette reminded all of us that God can use our lives to praise Him—even when we’re in the rapids.