A God of Reversals

Will Willimon has a great post up right now called Divine Wisdom Among ‘Little Old Ladies’ where he responds to a negative comment somebody made about a specific group of churches: “There’s nobody left in the churches except for a few little old ladies.” As always he writes with warm humor and deep conviction, and as is his style, he deftly turns things around and shows us a God who is known for His affinity for reversals. It is a short little post that is worth the read.

It reminded me of something that happened to me in a Fuller Seminary classroom a few years back. I had arrived early for a class and was jotting down some notes in my folder when a young male student entered the classroom and took a seat in front of me. Next to me sat a young female student, and the two of them struck up a conversation. It turned out that they had both attended the same private Christian college not far from L.A., and they spent a few minutes reminiscing and reconnecting over their college days. At one point, the young woman told her college friend who her roommate was, and that her roommate was doing graduate work at USC. The young man looked at her warily: “You guys don’t live around there, do you?”

At this point I stopped writing and I cocked my head a bit, waiting for her response. You see, the “around there” that he was alluding to is my neighborhood, and I was curious to hear her response.

“Are you kidding me?” she said, with a laugh. “Two single women living in that neighborhood? That would be crazy!”

My eyes actually filled with tears at her words. Not only because I took offense at how she thought of the people I love and live with; not just because of the prejudice and fear so evident in her words; not simply because she and her friend, who were likely the products of so much privilege, could not see worth and beauty in the place I call home, but because our church was built on the backs of single women making just that choice.

Like Willimon’s post reminds us: we know and serve a God who delights in using “what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are” (I Corinthians 1:27-28).”

Do we really want this to be true about God? Are we willing to allow it to shape the way we see our churches and our world? Do we have the imagination necessary to let this truth come into our life and change it?

I am lucky. I serve a church with a history of young, single woman who were given the faith to believe it.


  1. Yeah, I love his writing. I have an audio tape of a sermon he gave at my denomination’s annual pastor’s conference many years ago. I literally listened to it until the tape wore out. He’s a great preacher!

  2. They are right. If you had the choice would you live around the USC campus? Eventually you will move because it is a run down area that is not a place to raise children unless you have to. Do you mean to tell us that you will remain there once you land a good job and have the means to own something in a safer area?

  3. My family does live here by choice. There are very distinct challenges to living here and raising a family, and we turned down a handful of “good jobs” to plant ourselves here. We certainly recognize how strange this looks in light of other choices we could make that would be much more mainstream. And we certainly would not be here if we did not feel compelled by God to do what we are doing.

  4. I find this sentence interesting – “our church was built on the backs of single women making just that choice” – it makes it sound as if people are being sacrificed in the form of manual labor for a physical brick and mortar “church.” Doesn’t seem like that’s what you mean to communicate. Just a random thought.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *