Monday, October 5, 2009

Star Trek Memories: Learning from Kirk & Co., Pt. 2

The beautiful Lt. Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols
Nichelle Nichols got real tired of getting less and less to say each week in the early days of Star Trek. She had gotten hired, but it began to get tedious for a wonderful actress to say again and again "Hailing frequencies open, Captain." So she went in and told Gene Roddenberry on a Friday afternoon that she quit.

"You CAN'T quit!"

"Gene, I just did!"

Then God intervened. Yeah, I think so. THAT Saturday, she had to go to a fund-raiser,a banquet of some sort. She was having a good enough time when some men came over and said a very, very big fan wanted to meet her. Nichelle, in real life, is a bit of "bad mama" - she doesn't know these "cats" but O.K. whatever. [Remember, this is the 1960s.]

Trekkers know who she met: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was mesmerized and praised her that she was on the show. Nichelle told him she'd just quit because of her lack of opportunity to say anything meaningful as a character. "Don't quit, Nichelle! Every time they see you, they see a black woman being treated as an equal, an officer - working in space!"

You know, we really do take that for granted now, but in 1966, that was an amazing view.

Nichelle saw King was right. It wasn't about her, but what she represented to so many. She went back to work Monday. Roddenberry gave Uhura more opportunities and if you notice, she is the only one constantly seen over Kirk's shoulder. In other words, every command chair shot that ain't an extreme close-up features Nichelle too. You couldn't escape her presence, which is exactly what America needed then.

Sometimes folks, you are not useful because of your work, but because of your presence.

This past week, I had someone leave my Bible study in a huff because we dared teach God elects people from before birth to know Him. This is straight from Ephesians, chapter one. Simply put, this person has spent too many years trying to be a Good Christian without realizing that God choose her, opened her eyes and placed her in a position to change the world. She's a great evangelist, but like so many go-getters, she doesn't realize that all she has done has been only because God called her FIRST.

A few days later, I get an e-mail that said she won't be coming back - citing her busy, busy schedule. I got to say that hurt. And so, like all mortals, I got angry as I thought about how patient we've been when she points out EVERY time she's there that the 'New Living Translation' is the one we should use. I do not kid. In 40 attendances/year, it has been mentioned each time. *sigh*

I've listened to her correct everyone in our group while holding some very conservative ideas that are not necessarily Christian. It was just a matter of time before God swatted her with His Authority to do as He wishes.

So I've been thinking about taking a break. Maybe I am trying too hard. If CHRISTIANS don't want to hear what God says, why bother? When so-called 'mission-minded' Believers get angry at the Bible's teachings or derail it with their fallen reasoning, why try to teach them at all?

Then God intervened as I was lapping up some self-pity.

This past week, not one, but TWO completely unrelated instances came up where I ran into formerly incarcerated men who told me how MUCH my teaching meant to them. One said "I'm going to church now because of you!" - another "I'm out, going to school and working part-time. I was in a bad place, nearly suicidal, and you helped me through it."

You need to know I never meet with my men after they are out. I tell them to find a good church and go, learning all they can about Jesus. So this double-whammy - one one day, and one the next, taught me a lot.

You cannot see all the impact of your life: it's too big - and really, that's God's job, He Who Created You.

But you can stay the course, accept He's using you to give hope and strength to those who need it most and will listen to His Voice.

Amen.

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