The mission of Baylor University is "to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community." Everyday, alumni all over the world are living out that mission in a million different ways.
Melody Raines, BA '97, is just one example. Her health issues began in college and culminated with breast cancer in her mid 30s. At the same time, she was grappling with financial difficulties, family tragedy, and all the other life/career questions most young adults face. But through it all, Raines says, God was leading her and teaching her. Raines' story is a beautiful one -- not despite the sadness she's endured, but because of how God's majesty has shone through her life as she continued to serve and love others, even in her weakness.
Raines' words (below) only give a glimpse of her story. For more, including a free download of her book, More Great, visit moregreat.com.
My Latin classes met on the third floor of Old Main. For two hours every Monday, Wednesday and Friday one semester, I sat in a window next to my classroom and translated Cicero. I liked to get ahead in that class because as soon as I finished my homework, I could pray. Sometimes I got a whole day ahead so I could spend the entire two hours praying. I couldn't wait to get to the window each morning. God lived there.
Ten years later, I sat back down in the windowsill, pulled my feet up into the corner and leaned my right shoulder against the pane like I used to. From the ground below, I probably looked like I had nestled into a favorite hammock.
"I'm back, God."
I didn't have anything else to say. It was God's turn to talk. He reviewed the prayers I prayed the last time I sat in the window. Prayers for my friends. Prayers about my future. He had answered so many of them, though not like I had expected. People I thought would still be in my life weren't. Strangers had taken their places.
While I sat there in the window, God reminded me of his faithfulness. And He reminded me of the confidence I had as a college student, that I-can-change-the-world attitude and the courage to try, the belief that I could fly.
"You can still fly, Melody. Just jump out of the plane."
"It's going to be okay, right, God? You've got me, don't you? 'Cause I don't have a parachute."
Classes ended and students drifted out of the buildings. I followed them back to my car as I hummed "Danny Boy" with the bells.
I drove home to Corsicana, where I had resigned from my job so I could move to Austin. I was sure God had a purpose for me there, but I had no idea what that purpose was.
After a few months in Austin, I drove back to Baylor, desperate for the God who met me in the window of Old Main. This time I wore a pink scarf on my bald head. I crawled into the window and read the Psalms.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD ...
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption. (Psalm 130:1, 5-7)
"My hope is in you alone," I wrote in my prayer journal. Other prayers came out in Latin: "Nomini tuo da gloriam, Domine. To your name I give the glory, Lord, because of your love and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1).
The last three years of my journals had chronicled God's faithfulness as I laid down my dream job of teaching Latin and English, finished seminary, served as a campus minister and survived a family tragedy. Surely God would be faithful on this page of my journal too.
You should see my journal now.
God wrote an unbelievable story of his faithfulness and unfailing love as the body of Christ prayed for me, encouraged me and gave sacrificially for me. They organized Race for the Cure teams in my honor, paid for my parents to fly in from out of state, hosted my parents in their homes, cleaned my apartment and brought me meals every three days for months.
When the hardest part of chemo was over, I starte,d volunteering in my church's office. The communications manager let me use my English degree to edit the bulletins. Before I moved to Austin, I had prayed that God would let me write for his glory. I didn't expect to edit bulletins for his glory. After I edited bulletins for a year, my seminary advisor asked me to edit someone's thesis. Not long after that, he asked me to edit another one. Then he asked me to grade for his writing class. And my Baylor roommate and her husband asked me to edit the book they wrote. Soon I progressed from bulletins to dissertations and a career as a freelance editor.
As God transitioned me into a new career, he also restored my body. I'm about to finish my fifth cancer-free year.
I've moved to Alabama, where I lead a kids' choir at my church and teach a missions class. I continue to edit for the story team at my church in Austin. We print an excerpt from each story in the bulletin, so I still edit bulletins for the glory of God.
Nomini tuo da gloriam, Domine.