Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Amazed by His Sovereignty

I’ll begin with a disclaimer, similar to the opening statement of my first book; this story is not about me! I have in fact hesitated to publicize it, for fear that it might be misinterpreted. This story is about the sovereignty of God who owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Ps. 50:10) and who uses the gifts and resources stewarded by His people to glorify Himself.

I cannot tell you where this story begins. The Lord our God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, so history really is His-story. I know that "in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Col. 1:16-17) I can only tell you where this story begins from my perspective. I do, however, know that I am only one small cog in this giant wheel of God redeeming His people unto Himself.

For me it begins when a couple of colleagues at Jefferson State Community College asked if I would be a guest speaker at a youth leadership conference they were helping to organize. I’ll stop right here to tell you that this kind of thing is not exactly my cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly comfortable speaking in front of large groups and I teach students every day, so the size or demographic of the crowd didn’t bother me. It was the particular topic that I was unsure of.

I have, for the most part, gotten away from the motivational or inspirational speaking genre to focus on Biblical teaching. However, a few months before I was approached by my colleagues, I was invited to speak at a church on Father’s Day. I taught from the Old Testament book of Nehemiah and talked about “Rebuilding the Wall”. I decided that I could tell the story from a historical perspective to the students, and use it to teach sound leadership principles like facing adversity, teamwork and motivation.

Little did I know that God was already at work in this endeavor. At a planning meeting a few weeks before the conference I announced my topic - “Rebuilding the Wall”. I wish I had a picture of my colleagues’ faces! Their jaws literally dropped. Unbeknownst to me they had already named (and had T-shirts made for) the conference - “Scaling the Wall”. I knew then that God was at work. I just didn’t know, and may never know this side of Heaven, to what extent.

I was scheduled to speak at a Friday mid-morning session, which was perfect. I could drop Anna Morgan off at Mother’s Day Out, drive to the conference a half hour away, do my thing and be back in plenty of time to pick her up. However, just a few days before the conference I was asked to swap with another speaker and do the afternoon session. Aaaarrrgggghhh!

Nobody wants to be a speaker on Friday afternoon. Everybody’s got the weekend on their minds. Plus, I’d have to make other arrangements for Anna Morgan to be picked up. It was, or so I thought, bad news all around. But as a favor to my friends/colleagues, I agreed. I would eventually realize that everything I’d ever taught about Romans 8:28 was still true.

When I arrived at the conference, I learned that I would be the key note speaker at the closing assembly. This is it! The big finish everyone had been waiting for! It was also a larger crowd than any other session because parents and sponsors were there. Now, generally speaking, high school students don’t spend their money on books…but their parents and sponsors do! I was warmly received, the talk went well, the crowd laughed in all the right places, and I even sold a few books afterward. All in all it turned out to be a pretty good afternoon.

On the way home I stopped by the bank to deposit the checks I received from book sales, but I kept the cash knowing that I’d need some for the weekend. That night I took the family out to eat cheap Mexican food (a Fisher family favorite), and used some of that cash to pay the bill. I even set aside some cash that I was going to contribute as part of a love offering for a couple in our church Life Connection class who were moving away.

The next night, at the going away party there was food, fun and fellowship. As the party was winding down, I overheard another lady in our class talking about the upcoming mission trip her and her family were going to participate in. She was asked about all the particular costs of travel and food and lodging, etc. She said that the family had steadily been raising support, but time was getting close to leave and they were still short. Then another member of the class asked, “So how much more do you need?”

Now, I’m gonna go ahead and tell ya’ll…I was already planning to contribute to the mission trip, but it would not have been a significant contribution. And while I certainly understand that “every little bit helps” and “many hands make light work”, I was not prepared for what was about to happen. In the brief instant it took my friend to answer that question, I must’ve said a thousand prayers. They all sounded something like, “Lord, please let it be a huge number!” “Please let it be like $5,000 or something so that I can’t possibly be expected to give it all.”

But wouldn’t you know it; this family’s mission trip fund was short exactly the amount of cash that I had in my wallet! Ain’t that just like Jesus? I told my friend this story and gave them the money. They cried, we hugged, and we were simply overcome by God’s grace, and provision, and timing, and love.

2 Corinthians 9:7 reads, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” I must admit, if someone had told me that God would require all of the cash I’d received from book sales that day, I would probably not have been very cheerful. Even though I’d seen God’s hand at work from the planning of the talk, to a change in speaking time, to the increase in crowd size that led to an increase in book sales, I was still a bit reluctant to hand over all of my cash even to this missionary endeavor.

The point I’ve learned, and the one I must share is this; it’s all His anyway. From the job (where I met the colleagues who invited me to speak), to the gift of gab I’ve been given, to the ability to write and publish and sell books, to the van I drove to and from the conference, to my family I took out to eat cheap Mexican food…it’s all His. It all belongs to God! We are simply stewards for a short time.

God help us to be generous with what we’ve been given so that in due time we might hear the words of our Savior recorded in Matthew 25:21, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

1 comment:

  1. This is great stuff, J-Fish. You are truly one of the most gifted, smartest men I know.