In a recent Bible commentary, a pastor was telling on herself. A young woman had asked her for a letter of recommendation. The pastor knew this woman was not deeply religious, but needed a letter from a pastor for a camp counselor position.

“The nerve of this young woman!” the pastor thought. Then she read Mark 7:24-37 about Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman. The Scripture opened her eyes and she wrote a favorable recommendation. When I read this article, my world was rocked. The exact thing happened to me just the day before!

A young man asked me for a letter of recommendation for dental school. As a professor of physics, I have large classes full of eager students, not wanting to learn the beauty of physics, but wanting to obtain grades needed to get into pharmacy, medical, or dental school. Due to the COVID virus I was forced to teach via ZOOM and never got to meet the students face-to-face. Thus, I had never met this young man in person. I did a quick e-mail search and exclaimed to myself, “Oh, this guy! Really?!”

I was in good company, Jesus did the same thing. According to Mark, Jesus ventured into Tyre and a Greek woman came to him pleading he heal her daughter. His response was shocking. He wondered why he should waste God’s healing on a “dog.” Her response was even a “dog” deserves God’s grace. Jesus saw her point and healed her daughter. I wonder if Jesus felt like a jerk at that moment?

The stress of doing ZOOM college was wearing us all down and this kid always seemed just a tad off. Things he did seemed crude? No … unschooled? Sending e-mails in all caps; not understanding how the on-line homework worked. Forgetting to “mute” when I was lecturing. He was usually late then asked lots of questions about what he missed.

I never turn a kid down for a recommendation so we ZOOM-ed an interview and he sent his “personal statement.” I was “wowed” by this young man and felt like a real jerk.

He essentially grew up homeless. His mom was a meth addict and in prison for most of his young life. Dad had trouble finding work and they lived in his pickup or splurged and got a motel some nights. He still managed to go to school. He moved in with his grandma but there was lots of drugs and people coming and going.

No wonder he didn’t have the “cultural capital” of the other students. He managed to enroll himself in junior college and get a Pell grant. He came to the university, worked three jobs, achieved Phi Theta Kappa honors, and graduated with a 3.7 GPA. He also has a one-year old daughter. Now he hopes to get a lucrative scholarship so the military can send him to dental school.

This young man was my “God” moment. I wonder how many blessings we miss in our lives because we don’t want to waste time on a “dog?”

Bob Riggs is an elder at First Presbyterian Church of Liberty. This submission is written on behalf of the Liberty Ministerial Alliance.

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