It has been a while since my last post, and as you might imagine, or even if you can't, there is a reason for the time lapse. No, it is not just because I'm lazy, although that is part of it. It is because God has been at work.
As with any great story, this one starts... in a galaxy far far away... well, sort of. When I was 10, while seated around the kitchen table of my family's Colorado cabin, my grandmother asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?". I replied, "I want to be a pastor or a comedian." My grandmother asked, "Why can't you do both?". The rest of the family laughed. "What's so funny?" my grandmother asked. "Those two professions don't go so well together in today's society." answered my father.
Years later, when I was in college and trying to decide on a major, I had long since forgotten about that conversation. The major I settled on was theatre. I loved the theatre so much that I continued on to graduate school and eventually earned an MFA in Directing. Many years of working as an actor, director, teacher and technical director in the theatre followed.
Fast forward to September 2011. At this time I was working as the technical director for a theatre in the D/FW area. About this same time the church my family and I attended got a new pastor. He and I got to know one another, and he asked if I would observe the worship services and create a list of possible improvements. I made some suggestions, and then began to think "I might enjoy working as a media/technical director for a church.".
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or the theatre as the case may be, I had grown tired of carpentry, which comprised approximately 90% of my job. I was ready to leave. So in March 2012 I called a friend of mine who was the technical director of a church in Keller to ask if he knew of any churches looking for media/technical directors. He said he didn't, but he might be leaving his church and would love to have someone in place when he left. "Keep me posted." I said, and asked if he would help me get my resume geared toward church work. He agreed, and I began to rework my resume. About a month later he emailed and said "It looks great. Let's get you a job.".
In the first week of May 2012 I got a call from my friends church in Keller inquiring about my interest in working there. I went and visited the church and spoke with one of their executive pastors. He said he had to talk to several other guys, but wanted to leave the door open with me. I agreed. A week later the pastor called and invited me to come for an interview. I was excited. I went to the interview and really felt that it went well, and that I had a good shot at getting the job. The night after the interview with the church I got a call from one of the board members of a theatre I used to work for saying "Our Artistic Director just resigned would you be interested in applying for the job?"
This was a position I had dreamed about since I was 18 years old. "I want to be an Artistic Director." "Yes." I said, and waited for the job to be officially posted. I attended a party thrown by some of this theatre's supporters, and during the evening was asked if I was going to apply for the job and if I wanted the job. I said "yes."
At this point I felt as if I were at a cross roads. I did like the Keller job, but the theatre was my dream job. Then towards the end of May I was informed by the theatre I was currently working for that I would be let go around August 1st if I did not have a job before then. The pressure was on. I needed to make a decision. I began to pray for guidance.
As I prayed, two verses came to mind. Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28. Jeremiah 29:11 says "I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
I began to pray and study those verses and seek God's will in this decision. One evening I decided to visit the web site of the church in Keller. I wanted to get another glimpse of the services and the pastor. In his message the pastor said if you want to hear God why don't you do what Samuel did in 1 Samuel 3:10. Samuel heard a voice call him and he thought it was Eli his teacher. He went to Eli and was told to go back to bed. This happened twice, then Eli realized it was the Lord calling Samuel and told him to go lie down and when the Lord called his name to say "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."
The pastor asked the question "What would happen if we sat down in the morning and were still and asked God to speak?" He said to remember Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God." and ask God to speak, then listen. I decided to do that.
The next day I got a call from Keller, the pastor wanted me to come and sit in on a women's conference that they had put together because this would give me a good idea of what they were capable of. I went, and during the early session one of the speakers said "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the call." This resonated with me because I had been thinking I wasn't qualified for the church job, I was a theatre guy after all. Later that afternoon, I went to a friend's birthday party. As I walked in, I saw a bible verse hanging over his back door, Jeremiah 29:11. "Hmm." I thought, "that is interesting." Towards the end of the party I got to talking with the birthday boy about this situation and he said "The important thing is the call. In whatever you do, you must be called or you'll work in vain." That struck a chord with me because I used to say that very thing to students who would ask me for advice as they were pondering a career in the theatre. "If you can do anything else and be happy, do it." I would say. "Well, this is interesting I thought," still kind of believing I was called to the theatre.
The next day was Sunday and I went to Sunday school and church. In the hall of the church I got to talking with another friend of mine about my situation, and he told me a story about a pastor friend of his that always wanted to be a lawyer. However, as he finished his undergraduate degree God called him to seminary. "But I want to be a lawyer." he thought, as he went to seminary. After he completed seminary he thought "I want to be a lawyer." But God called him to pastor a church. He went on to be very successful, and he thought "I could have gone to law school and become a lawyer, but I would have missed out on God's blessings for my life." "That is a neat story." I thought and went on to Sunday school.
After Sunday school I went to church. Our pastor began to preach about Abraham and Isaac, Genesis 22. He talked about how every father has dreams for his children, and how God tested Abraham by asking his to give up his dream, the thing he loved (Genesis 22:2). The Pastor then began to say not to worry if you give up your dreams because God has a plan for you, a plan to prosper you. "Wait a minute, that is Jeremiah 29:11, I have been studying that verse all week." I thought. Our pastor continued, "Remember, God works all things for good for those that love Him." "Whoa, that is Romans 8:28. What is going on?" I thought. Then the call. "What dreams do you need to let go of?" the pastor asked. Immediately I knew what dream I needed to lay down. "Give up the theatre." the Holy Spirit prodded. "I do not want to do this." I thought. Then I remembered a quote from Madeleine L'Engle in her book Walking On Water; Reflections On Faith And Art. "I have never given up anything I needed to, without leaving claw marks in it." I held on to that dream as long as I could, and then said "Ok Lord. Ok. I am not sure about this, and I'm gonna need some help, but here you go." And I gave it up.
My wife was helping in the nursery during the service. So, as we drove to lunch she asked, "How was the service?" She had no idea what she was in for. I relayed the story and sat there in the parking lot of the restaurant clutching the steering wheel saying "I don't want to give up my dream, but I will." My wife said "You know that if you follow Him, God will bless you more than you can imagine." We went in and ate. Then, as my wife returned from taking one of our daughters to the restroom, she said, "And two more things... do you remember what you told your grandmother? You wanted to be a pastor. You have the ability to affect people in worship services. Don't you think that is being a pastor? And It doesn't matter if you are the Artistic Director of the Lincoln Center Theater, if you are not doing what God wants you to, you will not be successful." I knew she was right.
As I went through the next week it took a little adjusting to get used to the idea of life in the church. I even tried to argue with God and say I didn't think I should give up the theatre. He said "Give up, give up. It's not yours to give up. I gave you this gift and I can take it back any time I want." That put things into perspective. Later that afternoon I found a job posting from the theatre whose artistic director resigned. The theatre is looking for guest directors, not an artistic director. Door closed. I would have never thought I would give up a shot at my dream job. God's ways are not like our ways.
Throughout the Bible when the Lord appears He says, "don't be afraid." There is peace when you are in the will of God. What is surprising to me is that throughout all of this I have had peace.