My second year of college I moved up to Warrensburg, Missouri, attending Central Missouri State University (now called University of Central Missouri). I lived in a dorm with my childhood friend David Scowden, and in the same hall were Ross Erickson and Scot McClellan from the class after mine. It was the fall of 1983 and was the beginning year of Night Tracks, a late night video show that students in our dorm gathered to watch on Friday nights late into the night.
I was 19 years old, and this was the first time living outside of my hometown of Branson. CMSU sat right in the middle of Warrensburg. The student union from our dorm was about a half-mile walk. I needed to find a job to help pay for my schooling and I saw there were openings for custodians at the student union. I applied and got a position for late night cleaning.
I remember that semester and my many walks to the student union to work. While students visited, laughed, and studied. I mopped floors, cleaned bathrooms, and vacuumed. I remember at times seeing students walk by I had met in class and felt embarrassed. However, I reminded myself that Jesus, Himself, was a carpenter, so I could be a custodian. It was good and honest work.
My least favorite part of the job was cleaning the small chapel. Every time I opened the door to the chapel and turn on the lights, cockroaches longer than an inch would scurry about. The chapel stood eerily quiet. I would pray and hum praise songs to calm my nerves.
I remember my half-mile walks to work on cold November nights, talking to God and singing. This solitude and at times lonely times became meaningful times with God, where I shared my struggles and hopes with Him.
I soon got involved in a Christian group on campus with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or FCA. It was an interesting batch of folks, with some athletes, and others not, but all friendly and fun to be with. I remember my friends Diane and Beth. I had a joke I would tell with a completely incomprehensible ending. It was always a story about a youth named Timmy. At the end of the story his last line would be, “I don’t know, but my Mom has a sewing machine.” I would only tell the joke when Diane and Beth were present, because as I told the story they would start laughing and not be able to stop. Folks thought it was going to be a very funny joke, only to have me say the silly last line. Diane and Beth would be rolling on the floor, crying with laughter, while the others would stare at them and me. It was classic!
I left the custodian job the second semester when I got a position as a resident assistant in another dorm. New adventures awaited me during my next two and a half years at CMSU, including moving off campus with a couple of FCA buddies, Mark, and Myron, working for the school newspaper selling advertisements, and getting a scholarship position for the campus radio station as a disc jockey. However, I’ll never forget that first semester at CMSU and my time mopping those long, wide hallways in the student union. God used that time to draw my heart closer to Himself, teaching my humility, hard work, and contentment.
It's a lesson I hope I never forget.