Jigsaw puzzles are one person’s source or relaxation and another person’s source of stress and torment. The box contains a lot of small pieces that when viewed individually make no sense. However, the picture on the box lets you know that there really is a scene hidden in those abstract, four-side pieces. For the jigsaw aficionado who really enjoys a challenge, they will purchase a puzzle that does not include a picture of the completed project. For them, part of the fun is finding out what picture the pieces will become.
Life is like that last example. There are lots of confusing pieces and we don’t know how they fit together nor do we know what the final picture will be. Such has been my life!
In 1991, I graduated with my first degree from Tennessee Temple University. Upon graduation, the student has to relinquish the pastorate of any TTU chapels so that other ministerial students can have a place to train and serve. Knowing this time was coming, I started sending out resumes.
Pastoral search committees have unique criteria in mind as they look for their next pastor. It seems that most are looking for a youthful pastor who has 25 years of experience. As I sent out resumes, most churches didn’t have the courtesy to respond. Others responded with the same answer: no. Oh, it wasn’t that blunt. It was usually padded with kindness and evasiveness. But, it still equaled the same.
Our dining room table was cluttered with resumes, envelopes, stamps, and a lot of rejection letters. It was a discouraging sight. However, I was determined to keep trying until one day, I had finally had enough. I got the garbage can from the kitchen and with the swipe of my arm, I trashed every bit of it (except the stamps!). My conversation with the Lord went something like this.
You called me into the ministry. I’ve done my part and I won’t do any more. I’m wasting my time looking for a church when You know which church I’m supposed to be going to. So, I will not send out any more resumes. You have to open the doors and send me where I’m supposed to go.
And, I didn’t fill out another resume!
Within a week, I had a phone call to candidate at a church in Michigan. Members of FBC here in Bryan had family who were members in Michigan and they knew I had just graduated. On their suggestion, this church called me and asked me to come candidate.
We made the 15 hour drive and … well, you’ll just have to wait for the next installment to find out how God’s continuing amazing grace developed. For now, just getting the call was evidence that God’s grace is continuous.