If you read the previous blog entry, you will understand how we got the call to candidate at a church in Michigan – Twining, Michigan – a little town in the middle of a triangle formed between Standish, Hale, and AuGres.
You have to know a little bit about Twining as I build this story. I think the population was only about 200 if you counted all the cats and dogs. It was 30 minutes away from a large grocery store and an hour away from K-Mart (this was in the pre-WalMart days). The village had a little Mom/Pop grocery closet that was double normal prices, a small post office, and a little hardware store. For some reason, we also had the county school in town as well as a fire department. Twining is not a prosperous place but the people were very friendly. I share this because you need to know that we were not drawn to this place for any materialistic reasons.
From Chattanooga, this was a 15-hour drive. Ten of those hours took us to my parents where we stayed overnight. A reprieve to get rested from driving so that I could do my best in MI was interrupted by a molar that was causing excruciating pain. Mom made an emergency appointment with my childhood dentist for the Friday we arrived. The verdict wasn’t good – root canal/crown or pull it. When you start crunching the numbers, “pull it” was the economical response that was needed. Within a few minutes, the offending decayed tooth was on the dentist’s tray, able to harm me no more. And, while numb, I felt great!
Numbness wears off quickly! I began having pain like nothing I’ve ever known. Pain medication wouldn’t even touch it. I had what’s known as dry socket. The dentist wanted me to come back on Saturday but we had to be in MI. So, off we went with my mouth swollen and unbelievable pain untouchable by pain medication to interview for a job. It sounds like a disaster in the making, doesn’t it?
Long story short, I got there, I preached, I met with the deacons, we went out to eat where all I had was a delicious bowl of mashed potatoes and some cottage cheese. They informed me that they liked me but they already had some other candidates coming and had a couple before me. Would I be interested in coming a second time in a few weeks? Evidently, my misshapen face didn’t scare them off!
Now, here’s the remarkable part. After candidating the second time, my wife and I knew that the church was going to call us. Nobody said anything to us. We just knew. It was if God had whispered this into both of our ears. We had God’s peace and knew this was the direction He was leading. This was in July. The vote wouldn’t be taken until the first Wednesday night of August. In our hearts, it was a done-deal and official.
We went back to Chattanooga, gave our two-week notices at our jobs, and ordered a U-Haul. When we received the call on that Wednesday night, informing us that the church had voted us in, I just said, “Thank you, we know.” The chairman of the deacons was quiet for a second, stunned (confused) by my answer. Then, he asked when we could be there and I said, “We already have the truck packed and are heading out tomorrow morning. We will be there for church on Sunday.” This really confused him and I had to explain how God had already prepared us. He asked, “Do you want to know how much you are going to be paid?” I said, “You can tell me that when we get there. We knew this is where the Lord wanted us so we know He will take care of us.”
Many would say that I don’t know the fine art of negotiating! But, you don’t negotiate terms with God. Money has never been the object of whether I would come or go, leave or stay. When God leads and you have His peace that you are in the center of His will, everything else is just incidentals.
Proverbs 3:5-6 reminds us to “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”