How a Bible Verse Written in Lipstick and a Trip to the Sist
How a Bible Verse Written in Lipstick and a Trip to the Sistine Chapel Brought Spiritual Awakening
by Stephanie May, Godreports
I'm Stephanie, I'm 22 years old and just graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Broadcast News.
I grew up in Colorado, and never ever thought I'd go to CU. In fact, I swore that I wouldn't. However, God's plan was bigger than mine, (surprise surprise) and I found myself as a freshman proudly sporting the black and gold.
College was a wonderful, but also really rough time in my life. People always talk about the incredible changes that occur during college, but I had no idea what I was in for.
If you were to have asked me, I would have called myself a Christian. But it was more for the 'morally upright' social connotation I felt came with it. I made absolutely none of my life choices based off of what I thought God was wanting me to do. It was all about me.
But despite this, I really did have a strong faith in God. I knew that even when things weren't going my way, that there was a greater plan at work, and even if it wasn't right away... I knew that somewhere down the line I would see why everything had happened the way it did. I knew that it would be for the best.
I was raised in an Episcopal church, and was really involved in the youth group... but as I got into high school, the church fell apart. My family stopped going and that was the end of that. But even though I attended church, I knew absolutely nothing of the Bible.
My first meaningful encounter with the Bible was my sophomore year of college. The President of my Sorority (Chi Omega woot woot!!) was famous for doing hair, and so I found myself on a Friday night sitting in the chair in front of her vanity as she teased my hair within an inch of its life.
As I sat there, I noticed a quote written in lipstick on the mirror. (I've ALWAYS been a quote junkie and so it piqued my interest right away.)
The quote said "Look at the Nations and watch — and be utterly amazed. For I'm going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told"
I was captivated!! I asked her where the quote was from, and almost sheepishly, she said it was from the Bible. (Habakkuk 1:5) I was shocked.
My college years could be described in a lot of ways, but they would never be called "god honoring." I completely lost myself in my search for happiness and completion. I looked everywhere — getting caught up in all of the destructive past times that college so conveniently provides. But it wasn't until my junior year that things began to change.
One of my favorite books in the world is Eat, Pray, Love. If you haven't read it, its a book about a woman who goes through a horrendous break up and decides to take off and put herself back together overseas. She goes to Italy, India and Indonesia in search of life, love and God.
I read that book as I was going through a horrible break up of my own — and my story — it turned out — started to mirror hers quite remarkably.
Second semester of my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain. I was there with my best friend since I was 8 years old, and a phenomenal girl who was to quickly become a best friend as well. They are two of the most solid Christian women I know.
As I got to Spain, I began to put my heart back together. I also began to pray. But somehow over the years, I had cultivated an extremely negative view of college Christians and so I just wasn't sure how I was planning on forming a relationship with God. But I was praying about it a lot...
The last week of March, we had our Spring Break, and so we took off for a nine day trip around Italy. On the third day that we were there, we decided to do a tour of the Vatican. I had been there before, but as I was taking teeny baby steps into my faith, it carried much more weight the second time.
As we walked into the Sistine Chapel, I looked up on the wall and saw Michaelangelo's stunning depiction of The Last Judgement. Something happened to me in that moment. I saw Jesus's face and felt like I was seeing an old friend for the first time in a long long time. I was so overwhelmed with love for him, and just a desire to know him and be close to him, that in that moment I said it. "Jesus, I'm down. Let's do this Christianity thing." - In hindsight it wasn't the most profound thing I could have said, but it worked.
For the rest of my time in Spain, Kelsey and Michelle (my fabulous best friends) began to douse me with truth. I soaked it up. I felt like they were revealing the magic cure of the world to me... and I guess they were!
I would love to say that things changed drastically from there but they didn't. I got back to school and found myself straddling two different lives. I had changed, but my environment hadn't. I found myself making all of the same destructive decisions- going to church twice a week, and just sobbing the whole way through it because the light and love of the church was such a drastic change from my life outside of church.
I began to go to a college ministry called the Annex, that Michelle was working for- mostly because I thought I should be a supportive best friend. Part of her job was to lead a mission trip over Christmas Break, and so she invited me to go. I signed up to go to Costa Rica having absolutely no expectations, and really not thinking twice about it before I was packing the night before.
When I got to Costa Rica, the Lord absolutely blew the lid off of the tiny box I had contained him in.
I met 40 of the most unbelievable people I've ever known, and came out with no less than 10 new best friends. The Lord showed me poverty for the first time. He showed me what a difference you can make by even just showing up and loving people. He showed me such beauty and innocence in the eyes of the Costa Rican children. I was blown away.
Three major things happened as a result of that trip.
First of all, the Lord finally provided me with a community to walk through life with. I had never had a group of Christian friends before, and never had a mentor- and through that trip he provided so abundantly. That made walking away from the destruction of college a pleasure. All of a sudden I had people to do things with that were actually more fun. I was given a better shot at life.
Secondly, on the last day of the trip, I found myself in prayer in a church service and for the first time I opened up my future plans to the Lord. I said "God... I will do whatever you want me to do with my life." And after that, I found myself walking away from the career path I was barreling down- and now am an intern in the college ministry that had brought me to Costa Rica in the first place!
Then lastly... the Lord absolutely broke my heart for what breaks his. The day after we returned home from Costa Rica, Haiti was hit by the earthquake.
My whole team watched as the pictures and videos were coming in... we were horrified. I remember how stupid school all of a sudden seemed. I HATED the fact that I was in class while so much hurt was going on around the world. So without hesitation, I signed up for the Summer Missions program that the Annex does, called Messenger.
As a part of the program, you sign up to give your summer away and a committee places you on teams, in programs and in a location in the world. You have very little say on where you go. I was secretly hoping to go to Haiti, but I wanted to go wherever the Lord wanted me. The Lord picked Ghana, West Africa.
This last summer I spent two months in Ghana doing nothing but preaching. Evangelism was something that had always made me super uncomfortable, but this summer I had to get over that really quickly. We were responsible for preaching at church services each Sunday, night time gatherings, Bible studies, you name it! But what I found was that I love preaching!! I got more joy out of teaching God's word than out of anything I've ever done!
My time in Ghana was absolutely incredible. My eyes were opened to people and places and ways of worshipping that I couldn't have even imagined. But I should have expected that.
"Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I'm going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." Habakkuk 1:5
As I came back from Ghana, I realized that I was changed forever. I can no longer tune out the problems of the world like I used to. I have to be involved. I want to go... I want to help.
This Christmas I am helping lead a team of 92 students down to Haiti through the Annex... and following that, I will be trekking around the world on the World Race.
Although I must admit, I am a little bit nervous... I know that this is where the Lord is calling me. He's calling me to be a part of the miracles that he's already performing around the world. I can't wait. Habakkuk 1:5 is right... although I didn't see this coming... I certainly am AMAZED.
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