Tag Archives: Corinthians

Plans, pigeons and prayers

Ten days after we made the decision to pursue ministry full time, I called my best friend.

“That just made my whole day,” he said when I told him the news.

It felt good hearing that.  We were excited and it was an amazing feeling to finally tell some people, especially him.

I had been on a mission trip with him and some others during the summer of 2012, while I was still living in Florida.  We have some dear friends who live in North Africa and we went to support them.  As the trip neared the end, we had a special prayer time in our friends’ apartment.  I was so teared up and torn up that I couldn’t even express a verbal prayer.  I realized then how much I missed my friends.  Leaving that trip was going to be like leaving South Carolina all over again.

This is why it was so comforting to start telling people what God had put on our hearts.  We started feeling the comfort of our friends again.

I considered the plan we made.  Step one, find a job in SC.  Step two, get into seminary.  Step three, graduate and find a job in ministry. Very early in our process of moving back to South Carolina, I had a job interview.  I just knew that I was going to get the job.  I knew that God was behind it.

I sat in a parking lot overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway on my lunch break while I spoke to a recruiter.  I was watching a flock of pigeons (or are those flocks?  gaggles?  herds?), anyway, a bunch of pigeons eating some feed that someone threw out.  There was one bird that looked…unkempt.  Another way to say it is the bird looked downright sketchy.  He looked like someone gave him a bag of donuts and a bag of meth.  You know the way your hair (not mine since I don’t have any) looks when you wake up in the morning?  The bird look like that.  I’ve never seen a bird with messed up feathers before.  I even think the bird had a lazy eye.  I made sure my doors were locked.  The strung out bird-thing looked something like this:


While I was staring at this bird, I noticed that no other birds came near him.  I guessed he also hadn’t seen a birdbath in a while.  I chuckled at the sight of this bird for a moment, but then became saddened.  There was something wrong with this bird.  Maybe he was born that way.  Maybe he got struck by a car or flew into a window and was injured at some point.

Over time, I started feeling like that bird.  I started feeling alienated.  I started feeling neglected.  I didn’t get that job after all.  In fact, not a single company that I sent my resume to contacted me.  I had a fantastic resume.  I was 31-years-old and a corporate advertising executive for one of the fastest growing media companies.  I had a strong six-figure salary with a bonus potential more than some people make in a year.  I had been promoted often and had a vast knowledge of the industry.  I was applying to jobs that were below the level of my first job out of college.  Nothing.  No emails.  No calls.  Silence.

It was at that point that my prayers started becoming more silent, too.  I never doubted that God was calling me into ministry, but I was doubting the timing.  It was a daily struggle to try and understand that balance between what I was feeling and what was actually happening.  Discerning God’s will is not an easy task.  Getting out of my own way and letting God work is an even harder one.

At service one Sunday, God reminded of me of some important verses.

Therefore do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

In just a couple short lines, God steered me back on the path.  So what if things were not happening as I had planned?  So what if these companies didn’t call me back?  So what if things weren’t happening as quickly as I had hoped?

I started praying boldly.  I started praying very intentionally.  It was difficult for me to get to this point.  I really struggled to figure out if I was being obedient by praying specifically, or if I was being selfish by telling God what I wanted.

I started praying that God would guide me to a time where my former church home was ready to have a missions pastor.  I knew it was down the road and could be years, but I asked God to place me there.  I asked that the church would become financially able to add a staff position and have the workload to justify it.  I asked that he would prepare me through seminary to be the missions leader they would one day require.

Looking back, I noticed something about that freaky pigeon.  As lonely as he seemed at the time, someone was still feeding him.  He was still getting nourished by the food that was sprinkled out on the ground before he even arrived.  And you know what?  I started getting fed as well.

I finally got a the call I had been waiting for.

From the church.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

You want to smell like me?

Top 10 all-time favorite smells (no particular order):

  1. Beach (especially in the rain)
  2. Brownies baking
  3. Freshly cut grass
  4. Outboard engines (I know, I’m weird, but there’s something about gasoline and salt water)
  5. Gardenias
  6. Book stores
  7. Inside of new shoes
  8. Indie music stores (something about vinyl and incense)
  9. Photography chemicals (probably explains a lot about me)
  10. Coffee

Smell is the sense that is most connected to memory. The olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, which is closely associated with memory. The first time we encounter a scent, our brain can immediately recall it the next time we catch a whiff. Sometimes, scent can remind us of an emotion, like how you might feel when you smell funnel cakes at the fair.

Scent can remind you of people. For me, when I smell ‘new car smell’ along with cool a/c, it reminds me of Saturday mornings. My grandparents used to drive by our house on the way to the book store each weekend. They would pull in the driveway and talk to my Dad and I while we were working in the yard. (Well, Dad was working in the yard, I was probably just playing basketball). Sometimes we would just lean against the windows of the car and talk. Other times, they would offer for us to crawl in the back seat of their Lincoln Town Car and cool off a while. I certainly miss those days and miss my grandparents immensely.

Scent can remind of us places. Whenever I smell car exhaust, it reminds me of a certain mega city in East Asia that I frequent. It’s filled with cabs and buses. Somehow, I don’t hate the smell.

Remember this gem? There’s no greater pitchman than 7’7″ former center for the Washington Bullets, Gheorghe Muresan.

Aside from cabbage, what should we smell like if we are trying to be authentic in our faith?

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says:

14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

Incense and perfumes were often burned in triumphal procession. The burning was to celebrate victory or rejoice events that recently happened. As disciples, we should smell as sweet to God as the incense.

As disciples, we can judge our effectiveness based on the fruit of our efforts. Is our scent sweet and refreshing, or foul and rotten? I have to strive every day to have my life be an ‘aroma’ that reminds people of God. I want people to smell the proximity of the Holy Spirit when they are in my presence. As verse 14 describes, our job as believers is to ‘spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.’ The way we do this is to share His love with others. Our fragrance will be classified as ‘sweet’ based on our obedience to God’s commands, not by people’s (non-believer’s) reactions to us.

Incense and candles are nothing more than temporary objects. They are sacrificial in nature. We set them on fire and as they get consumed, we are left with a wonderful smell. Eventually, they burn down to nothing but ash or a messy bunch of wax. As God chooses to use my gifts, talents and passions (the stuff he gave me anyway), I hope that it can leave others with a wonderful scent.

Tagged , , , , , ,