Why is this post launched with a picture of an ugly van? Well, the van is part of the story for why I’ll be attending the We Are Church pastors’ event January 7-12 this coming year in San Francisco. If it weren’t for the man and his wife who gifted me this van deciding to throw in also covering the cost of this experience with We Are Church, I don’t know if I would have known for sure that this experience is of the Lord’s will. God has so opened doors for me to learn along with a few close friends about day-by-day disciple making in Jesus’ footsteps. I’m humbled to be able to share the following story.
Recently I sold my car for $1,200. I found a van prior to the selling of my car worth $2,000 but being sold for $1,500 on Craigslist. I called the owner after my car was sold and shared that I was ready to buy his van. He shared that it was already sold, but he wanted to offer a slightly newer but definitely better van to me with only 75,000 miles on it. Besides a few very inexpensive repairs, this van is going to be a great fit both for marketing my business and for ministry activity here in Merced, CA. This fellow and I had a great conversation that day about the van he still had available, yet we also got a chance to talk about the Lord, our spiritual journeys with God, and how God has led us and provided and always pointed us to finding our deepest joys in His glory and grace in Jesus’ Gospel. We really enjoyed our conversations, and then I shared my blog site with him for his reading enjoyment and spiritual encouragement: http://www.groundedgospel.com.
After our conversation, I’d say my faith bucket started leaking a little and I started wondering two things: (1) I really was hoping I’d be accepted to the We Are Church experience for 10 pastors on January 7-12. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to wrestle with God along with a group of pastors I’ve come to really admire from a distance and then 10 other pastors like-minded to me, men who have been watching We Are Church from a distance but also seeking to be faithful right where God has us in our local communities. What was bothering me was that it just didn’t seem right to spend/give the $750 for housing and training/support for the We Are Church ministry. It didn’t feel right in my prayer times and considerations. So, I thought this thought. Maybe I’ll ask this guy who has the van if he’d be open to discounting the van’s cost as a way of supporting my wife’s and my neighboring ministry. He had shared that just that morning when I called him, he prayed to God, “Lord, please show me who I can bless financially today.”
(2) It was also heavy on my mind that the cost for the van was $1,500 and yet I’d only sold my Subaru for $1,200 and we actually could really use those funds to make it through December, our tightest month so far as a business and family since I opened my insurance agency five years ago. It’s getting better each year, but then again we have been so focused on debt pay-down that I’ve changed my lines of credit, all but one, from lines of credit to term loans. So, I have less access to credit when November and December hit. We have purposefully entered a season over the last two years of limiting our access to credit and paying our debts down. All that to say, I felt that maybe I wasn’t supposed to go to this Church Intensive even if this man selling the van discounted the price by $500. But then I thought how if I asked for him to lower the price by $500 for the sake of going to the intensive, I definitely had to use that savings for the intensive. Oh brother, right? I was getting all wound up thinking it over too much really, all the while seeking to get into a place of trusting God. I was in a way striving to enter God’s rest but was also acting out of my own desire for control.
This is the cool moment: I literally had a text message ready to send to this fellow asking for a discount on the price and explaining how I’d love to spend that savings on going to this Church Intensive. This man calls me before I get a chance to send the text, and he tells me he and his wife would like to gift me the van after reading about God’s work in my wife’s and my life. I’m so humbled by this! God is so amazing and gracious! This has also overwhelmed me with a sense of awe toward God, asking Him constantly lately, “What do you want Carrie and me to do?”
This floored me, and I got off of the phone basically shaking, that a total stranger but definitely a brother in Christ, would choose along with his wife to demonstrate God’s rich grace in such lavish ways for the sake of the furthering of the Gospel. I went to bed that night pretty nervous that after all of this I wouldn’t be approved after-all for going to the Church Intensive. I felt that I was probably operating in pride in much of this and thinking I’m some form of God’s man for great work and worthy of respect, etc, etc… God humbled me that night. He reminded me that He is the Prime Mover, the Glorious King, the One Who commissions us for good works, and that we should be zealous for good works, not shrinking back. My view of myself shrunk and my view of God and His Gospel grew that night.
When I checked my email the next morning, I realized that I had been accepted for the Church Intensive right about the same time as my phone conversation the prior day! God is amazing.
It will be special to see what we lean together as pastors at the Church Intensive, but more importantly, it will be special to encounter God together!
In the joy of our Savior,