The Lifers. There are the people, and then the select few that just speak into your life like no one else can. One of them is Dr. Rivard. I met him the day I signed up for classes at Crown College in summer of 2006. He sat down with me as I tried to make sense of the charts I was looking at and what classes I needed to take. I was nearly in tears sitting there already feeling overwhelmed, when he stopped the whole conversation and said, “Let’s pray that God will lead us as I advise you.” And He did from that day on. He was only my advisor academically as I studied music, but when I changed my major, he continued to be a light that shone in the darkness of my mind and my heart throughout my journey with the Lord. An accountability. An encourager. A mentor, a prayer warrior and a spiritual director.
“I still pray for you every week my beloved friend,” he said sitting across from me at Tucci Benuch, an italian restaurant we had eaten in 4 years ago almost to the date when I’d moved back to Minnesota, excited about God’s call to ministry in the city of St. Paul.
And then the impending question that had always brought tears to my eyes, because I knew he really meant it: “How is Autumn?”
I stared at my bread as I dipped it in oil and vinegar. I hated this question lately, because I was so out of touch with how I was doing. I wanted to be spiritual and mature, but I knew that I was so empty inside. So I covered by talking about accomplishments at work, a feeling of calling to a new location (though we didn’t know where) and a host of other seemingly important topics that I knew were only a distraction.
He’s moving in 2 weeks and I ‘m talking about NOTHING! Is this really how I want my last precious time with him to be?
“Do you like coffee?” He asked, as we left, doggie bags in hand. Our time was not complete. We would get coffee and sit and He would ask how he could pray for me and then maybe I’d have an answer.
He did. I said, “I don’t know how to open my Bible, but I’m so empty inside. I want to, but I can’t. I’m angry and I’m hurting and I’m hungry and I know the only hope is Jesus but I can’t bear to see myself in front of Him right now.”
He sipped his coffee and began to recite scripture, first in english, then in french. I caught my breath. There it was. The beauty I searched for. The beautiful moment we shared. God close to me again, speaking through my friend, to me.
He interrupted my thoughts with a desire for me to read the Psalms knowing that I seek beauty. That’s why I write about my child, that’s what I’m drawn to mountains, and water and creation. I want to be close to beauty because I want to be close to God.
“The Psalmist was the same. Read them again slowly and you will see the beauty all around you that he speaks of too. It will help you to be thankful in the midst of uncertainty.”
And then we prayed. We prayed for the longed for child, for my aching heart, for my confusion and lack of direction in terms of where God was calling me and our family. I left with a renewed sense of calm, peace and thanksgiving in my heart. Everything wasn’t perfect, but I felt ready to approach the one who knew just what I needed, and I felt prepared to accept what He would choose to give, or not to give.
“The Lord is my Shepherd I have everything I need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Even though I walk through valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear for He is with me. His rod and His staff comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4