I hoped six months of teaching in a desolate section of the Four Corners would give me perspective. However, I learned after six hours in an empty boarding school that silence, especially the haunting kind, isn’t always good for perspective.
U2 front man, Bono said something once about Christians making him feel “itchy”. I understood that feeling; uncomfortable, like a bad sweater you wear because it looks good, but not because it is warm or comfortable or something you need.
Honestly, I didn’t need God; I knew people who needed him, but I wasn’t one of them. I found my way through life leaning on few, and that’s why I planted myself in the desert, to figure things out without all of life’s noise.
And that’s when we met.
No silly, not me and God.
Me and a medicine man.
Now, I understand God can use anyone to lead someone to Christ, but I never saw the old, Navajo guy with dirty jeans and long hair as a potential evangelist.
So when talk at the boarding school turned to skin-walkers and spirits and strange happenings inside our apartment, my roommate and I knew exactly who to go to with our questions—the big guy.
No silly, not God. We sought out the resident medicine/handy man who worked at the school.
While painting, he patiently listened as two college girls babbled tales of suspected specters and reoccurring nightmares. When we finished talking, he held his paintbrush in one hand and looked directly at me.
“Do you believe in God?”
And there it was, the big question, and the big question came from someone with no agenda; someone I didn’t know, and someone I was pretty sure didn’t care what my answer would be.
“Yes,” I replied with an unexpected certainty.
“Then you need to pray to him,” he stated, and then turned to my roommate.
He pointed his paintbrush at her.
“Do you believe in God?” he repeated.
“No,” she replied immediately.
“Then you need to get some cedar and burn it.”
And we left.
We drove to town where I promptly bought a NIV Bible, and she quickly acquired some cedar. Twelve years later, I’m pretty confident I ended up with the better purchase.