By Mark Ellis —
She wanted to become the first woman president of the U.S. but was swept away in the primaries by the Trump tsunami. For many years she thought of God as a benevolent ‘super CEO’ and the resurrection of Jesus as allegorical, until a prominent pastor prodded her to embrace a deeper faith.
“When I was a child and into young adulthood I believed in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ,” Fiorina told a conference arranged by Opportunity International (OI).
Raised Episcopalian, her father was a prominent law professor who became a deputy U.S. attorney general and later, a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals. Her mother was an abstract painter, which may explain her precision-oriented, steel-trap mind and the artistic sensibilities of her personna.
Growing up, Fiorina attended five different high schools, studied philosophy and medieval history at Stanford, then worked as a secretary and receptionist at various firms until her spectacular rise through the ranks of AT&T, Lucent, and Hewlett-Packard.
As the focus on her career gained ascendancy, she drifted from the simple faith of her childhood.
“I still prayed every day,” she told the summit arranged by OI. “I still knew our souls didn’t die, that this isn’t the end. I had faith that good would triumph over evil and we do reap what we sow,” she maintained.
She viewed God through a business prism, as a benevolent executive. “I had come to view God as a super CEO of a big enterprise. He had created the universe. He had put in place quite a sophisticated set of management processes and those processes kept things running, not necessarily smoothly every day, but basically in the direction he intended over the long arc of time.”
The God she envisioned, however, was not very personal. “He didn’t attend to every detail. He didn’t know every person; how could he possibly? But he did somehow receive regular management reports that directed him to the strategic issues that required his attention or intervention,” she noted.
Her view of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith was unorthodox. “The virgin birth, the resurrection,
the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit – these were powerful allegories that drew people toward the right idea,” she thought.
“They were profound ideas at the heart of a sophisticated governance system, but I wasn’t really sure they were real any more.”
An invitation and a prayer
But her uncongealed faith was challenged after she received a phone call and invitation from Bill Hybels, the founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, to speak at his global leadership summit.
It seems Hybels had read Fiorina’s book, “Tough Choices,” and used it as a management and leadership-training guide for his team.
Fiorina accepted Hybel’s invitation, but was “a little nervous” about speaking at a religious-oriented venue. “I had been charging hard in the corporate world for quite a long time so I didn’t usually speak in that kind of setting,” she noted.
Fiorina met with Hybels in his office ahead of their interview and Hybels asked if he could pray with her. As he began to pray, at first she felt “overcome with gratitude for the caring of so many people who didn’t know me.”
Then something curious happened during the prayer – the Holy Spirit touched her heart in an unexpected and extraordinary way. “Then came a feeling that I was being elevated, lifted up. It was a sensation so strong that it was almost physical and it truly took me aback,” she remarked.
“That feeling of being lifted up was followed by a sensation of deep peace.”
Over the next year, Hybels and Fiorina maintained regular contact. “He was constantly prodding me to think about all of this. I was surprised by his personal interest in me. He was very persistent. It was his personal interest that kept me contemplating the personal contours of my faith.”
Still, doubts persisted, but she arrived at a point when she wanted to settle the issue.
A Christmas gift from above
“One Christmas Eve I asked God for help in resolving my doubts and I prayed for a sign.” When she woke up the next day, it was as if scales had been removed from her spiritual eyes.
“The next morning on Christmas I woke up with a clear mind because it suddenly became blindingly obvious to me that there were signs all around me.”
Fiorina quickly recognized there were ciphers – even from the world of science and technology — she had been ignoring.
Are not physicists still struggling to understand the basic building blocks of the universe – quarks and protons and dark matter? Are they not profoundly miraculous? Did Einstein not prove that energy never dies, it just changes form? she thought.
She considered life forms that existed at the deepest depths of the ocean, “places so dark and inhospitable that no one had ever imagined life could survive there, much less thrive. Why not, then, the miracle of an immaculate conception? Are there not inexplicable mysteries surrounding us every day?”
Fiorina thought about the GPS device in her car, “that keeps precise track of where we are and knows when we deviate off course and provides precise instructions on how to return to the right path.”
This helped explain the fact that an infinitely powerful, omniscient God could “know every single one of us personally and kept track of us and hears our prayers. If human beings can do this, then certainly God can know everything happening in the universe – not in broad management strokes – but in minute personal detail.
“And because God knows us so well, his care was substantiated in a personal empathetic Son – not because God needed Him, but because we did. And Jesus Christ shows us the right path.”
Fiorina was given a gift of enlightenment and awakening on Christmas morning that deeply impacted the way she related to the world around her.
“A short time later my father died and I grieved deeply but I felt none of the awful months of turmoil that accompanied my mother’s death,” she noted, due to her newly enlivened faith. “Despite my tears and tearfully delivered eulogy, when the congregation sang “Amazing Grace,” I felt only sweet peace.”
In early 2009 Fiorina received the devastating news that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer, and she went on to endure multiple surgeries, four months of chemotherapy and several months of radiation treatment.
Through this time of trial, the Lord’s “sweet peace” never left her, and amazingly, the fear of death she harbored since girlhood was gone.
Only weeks after Fiorina finished her radiation treatment she was hit with a family tragedy. Her stepdaughter Lori, who suffered with drug addiction, had taken her own life.
“The grief and the guilt my husband and I felt were almost suffocating and yet, at her funeral, people told me she
was in a better place. For the first time in my life I knew what they meant and I accepted it as real,” Fiorina told the gathering at OI. “I was sure she had not been truly alone in her final moments and we were not alone in our sorrow and so I was comforted.”
Soon after this tragic loss, Fiorina’s husband, Frank, confided to her that he had lost his faith. “He had always been a faithful man but he could not believe Jesus loved him and God could let such a terrible thing happen.”
Fiorina began to pray that her husband would be given a sign from above to restore his faith in God’s presence and care. She even dedicated this prayer at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Then God answered her prayer with his unmistakable signature a few days before Father’s Day. Frank was in the garage changing the oil in his car, and happened to glance over in the corner of the garage to a pile of boxes that had been sitting there for years.
“For no particular reason he decided to open one of them. Lying on top were four Father’s Day cards from Lori and in one of those cards was a long letter she had written to him many years ago telling him what a fine father he was and how much she loved him. He read ‘I love you’ in her childish hand and at that moment he knew that Jesus loved him and Lori had found peace.”
It was the sign Fiorina had prayed for! Frank returned to the house with the most remarkable look of relief on his face – and renewed faith in a God who comforts and cares for His children.
“And I knew that God hears our prayers and answers those He should,” she reflected.
“The peace of the Lord passes all understanding. It lifts us up. It guides us on our way. It comforts us in our time of sorrow. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here