Coming Full Circle
A few weeks ago, in a post titled A Natural Fit, I made mention of the things that I get to do in the realm of serving God and serving people. During the past few years God has opened doors for me to “get to” reach out to people through this site, our church, our business, and most recently, on the radio.
I have been, and remain, so grateful for all of those opportunities, and humbled that God would choose to use me to serve Him, in spite of who I was and what I may have done in the past. But I have to tell you that it took me a long time wrap my mind around the fact that, for whatever reason, God had decided to use me in any way to further His Kingdom.
It’s “fess-up” time.
Looking back on that period of time during late 2006 and most of 2007, I can see that I was afraid that God might wake up and realize that He had made a mistake, that He’d meant to tap Sam Smith on the shoulder, and not Sam Maniscalco! Seriously, I believed that it was something that wasn’t gonna last. In my mind, I was gonna be like a shooting star; brightly shining for a brief time, and then gone. Poof!
My fears lead me to do two things…
The first thing, and in my opinion the worst thing, was the fact that back then when I said “I get to do”, a small part of it was a prideful thing, more like a child saying “Hey guys, look at what I get to do! I’m somebody! I count!”
Kind of prideful, wouldn’t you say? Ego driven? Yes, to some degree. Oh, my intentions to help others and to share the news of what God had done in my life were sincere, but there was definitely a “me” thing going on too.
Not to defend my actions, but there was a reason behind them. You see, for years, in my mind, no one had ever listened. Not as a child, whose parents were always working. Not as a confused teenager, who was searching for direction. Not as a twenty-six year old father of two, in debt and in a very volatile relationship. Not as a thirty-seven year old man, recently remarried to an amazing lady and not-so-proud owner of a business that he neither wanted to own nor knew anything about. It seemed to me that no one had listened, that no one was listening, and that no one was going to listen; not even God.
When I had my spiritual awakening in August of 2006 I quickly recognized that God had been listening to me all along. The problem was that I’d never listened to Him. Hmm…
Not long after that I had this inexplicable feeling, almost a knowing, if you will, that God was gonna use me in some way. I didn’t have the foggiest notion of why, or better yet how, He was going to do it. I just believed that He would.
Almost immediately, I wrote a petition for humility and taped it on our bathroom mirror, right next to The Prayer of Jabez 1 Chronicles 4:10, which I had been saying every morning for several weeks. I believe that I’ve shared this petition with you before, but I’m going to do it once more. (I believe that we can never be too humble.)
God grant me the ability to be all that I desire to be.
God give me the humility to remain the man I am today.
Again, I began offering this petition to God every day. I guess it took a while for my petition to be answered; today, humility is my constant companion. Still, I recite it every morning because I know that pride has a way of sneaking in the back door.
Secondly, I went on a mission to do everything that I could before God woke up to His mistake!
Not long after my awakening, I began making business presentations for Redken (the hair care company) in various cities around the country. I never turned down an invitation to speak. I can’t tell you how many weekends I gave up spending time with Jackie (my wife) at our lake house to share what was on my heart with people everywhere else. When I received a call or an e-mail to be in Atlanta, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, or New Orleans, or wherever, I was gone. Anything else could wait until I got back. God might wake up.
The same could be said for my actions in our salon. Whenever I had the opportunity to share our story with one of our guests, or listen to what was on their heart, for the next fifteen or twenty minutes they became the focal point of my life. Our business was momentarily put on the back burner. God might wake up.
When Jackie and I began attending Church of The Highlands in 2009, we dove in head- first. Within the first eighteen months we had hosted a small bible study/fellowship in our home, had volunteered to host two ministry students in our home, and had become a part of a small team that was launching a new church campus nearby. I volunteered for pretty much any and everything. I even got baptized again. God might wake up.
When The Seed of Hope was launched in November of 2008, I made a commitment to send a post out every week. Not just every week, but by 7:00 every Monday morning. The first time that I missed a deadline, not through any fault of my own, but computer issues, I broke out in a cold sweat! It was two years before I actually missed a week, and that was because I was spiritually depleted from spending a lot of time listening to the hearts of people in the prayer room in our salon. I had to have time to heal my own heart, and I took a week to do so. No more than that; God might wake up.
This trend, of pushing and pushing and pushing continued until one evening just a couple of months ago. Brooke, a second year ministry student from Minneapolis, had been living in our home since last August. Brooke would push herself as a leader, as a minister to others, and as an example of God’s shining light. Her desire is to be the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth. I love that girl and her heart for Jesus.
I was constantly encouraging Brooke to slow down, to take time to rest, and to take what seemed to be the weight of the world off of her shoulders. I urged her that she didn’t have to prove anything to anyone, and especially not to God. He knew what was in her heart.
It was during one of those admonishments to Brooke that it hit me like a lead balloon; I was as bad as Brooke, if not worse. I realized, for the first time in several years, that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, and especially not to God. He knows what’s in my heart; that I love Him above all else, that I dedicate my life to Him daily, and that I live to serve Him. And I don’t have to worry that He’s gonna wake up because He never went to sleep.
I didn’t write a post for three weeks; not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because I didn’t have to say it.
God presence in my heart has changed me so much in the last couple years. Now, when I say that I “get to” do something, it is born, not from ego or the pride of what I get to do, but from an overwhelming humility that God allows me to do it.
I “get to” write about Him. I “get to” serve in our church. I “get to” lead small groups, and I “get to” listen to hearts of others, and I “get to” pray for people. I “get to” be a servant of an amazing God. I “get to.” At times, it’s still hard for me to believe.
I’m going to offer you a brief excerpt from A Natural Fit…
I’m reminded of a message that was given by Joshua Canizaro, yet another pastor at Church of Highlands. The gist of his message was this:
There are things in life that we’ve got to do. We’ve got to have a job. We’ve got to pay the bills. We’ve got to pay taxes, and buy groceries, and pay tuition. You get the message, right? These are things that we’ve got to do.
Then there are those things that we get to do. They’re things that we volunteer to do, because they’re in our hearts, and because doing them brings us joy.
This is where, in an odd twist, everything comes full circle…
Those things I mentioned that I “get to do” for God and for people, because I choose to? Well, when you get right down to it, there’s really no choice at all.
I’ve got to do them. All those things…writing, listening, sharing, praying, leading, and mentoring, fill me with God’s presence. They complete the circle of my life that includes my wife, my family, my business, and my church.
One morning a couple of weeks ago, just before Brooke went back home for the summer, she, Jackie, and I were having a conversation about this very subject.
Why do we feel as though we’ve “got to do” the things that we “get to do”?
After several futile attempts by Brooke and me to come up with an answer that felt “right”, Jackie looked at both of and said, “That’s easy. It’s in your DNA!”