Funny, how God works...
I’ve spent a lot of my quiet time during the last couple of weeks reflecting on the past. Well, that statement may be a broad stroke of the brush. More specifically, I’ve been reflecting about the last year or so and how a big desire of my heart has changed during that period. Funny, how God works…
Not long after my spiritual awakening in 2006, I was afforded the opportunity of giving presentations for Redken (the hair care manufacturer) at various venues around the country. At some point during each of these presentations, I would matter-of-factly give the lion’s share of our salon’s amazing success to God. It was after I’d spoken to a group of people in Chicago that I realized that it was of greater importance to me to speak humbly about God and what He’d done in my life than to speak proudly about our salon and its accomplishments. Speaking openly about God in a business arena made me feel, I don’t know, empowered, for lack of a better word.
I would always return to Birmingham and our salon flushed with enthusiasm. Our business, Salon M², became my personal platform for speaking to people about God. I’d speak to anyone who’d listen; customers, vendors, and even the guys that cleaned the windows! Speaking to them would, for a brief time, fill my insatiable desire to tell people about my God. It would also fill the voids between the times that I’d get to speak for Redken. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I was making a difference in the world.
The invitations to speak became fewer and farther in between, and eventually stopped coming at all, either as a result of the economy, or because of my insistence on sharing my faith with others. I was crushed. There was so much about God that I wanted to share. I couldn’t figure out why God wouldn’t just make those people ask me to speak!
I began hounding God…
Yep, that’s what I said. Every morning I’d get in my prayer chair and at some point during prayer and meditation, the topic of speaking to people would come up. (If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll let you know that I’m not timid when it comes to sharing what’s on my heart. Not even with God.)
God, are you listening to me? What am I missing? I’m wanting to go out and do this for You! I want to share what You’ve done in me and with me to people everywhere, not just in this city, or state, or country. I want to take this around the world. Come on!
This went on for weeks…months. I knew that I was probably aggravating God (I didn’t know then that we must be persistent and consistent in our petitions), but I didn’t care. Apparently it was His idea to put this fire in me, so He was gonna have to listen.
It was during one of those early morning rants that God gave me the idea to launch The Seed of Hope, which I did indeed do in 2008, with the help of Jason, a guy that had worked on our salon website.
The Seed of Hope immediately became, and I pray will continue to be, a way of sharing what God puts on my heart. It was a platform upon which I could stand and shout praises to God! I didn’t have to wait for an invitation to speak, and I could be as BOLD as I wanted to be in sharing my thoughts and my love for the Lord.
I love to write, but I’ll be honest in telling you that my love was born from the inability to speak, which I love even more.
I’ll also confess that while I loved to talk to people, I wasn’t a very good listener. Most times, my conversations with someone consisted of either me doing the talking, or planning on what I was going to say as soon as they stopped talking. I was so busy concentrating on myself that I rarely heard what was on a person’s heart. How could what they had to say possibly be as important as what I was telling them?
…funny how God works.
During a conversation with my wife Jackie one morning in the spring of 2010, God laid it on my heart to put a small, quiet room in our salon, which we did indeed do, a couple of months later.
I figured early on that the room would serve as a place for me to write, and to conduct monthly mentoring sessions with our team in the salon. In other words, it would be a place for me to share my thoughts and to speak, either verbally or through the written word.
I was wrong.
It didn’t take me long to realize that the room was a place for people to share what was on their hearts. They came into that room to talk, to unload, and to vent. My role in the room was to listen, the very thing that I had a hard time doing.
God was teaching me that in order to be a good speaker you have to be a good listener; that the best listeners are the ones that shut out their own voices and the world around them to concentrate on the person that’s right in front of them. Hmm…
Since I’m talking about the way God works, and confessing a couple of things, I may as well share this with you.
In March of 2009 Jackie and I began attending Church of The Highlands here in Birmingham. Highlands is a non-denominational Christian church, which I believe is the best place for me to be at this moment. The culture at Church of The Highlands is so much different from the one that I grew up in, in ways that I won’t even attempt to cover right now. There is one thing that I want to talk about right now though, and that is prayer.
Before you jump to conclusions, let me assure you that prayer was a huge part of the church that I used to attend. In fact, I learned many prayers when I was a young child, and there was always corporate prayer during the church services. I knew what prayer was, to be sure. I knew how to pray for my needs, and how to pray for others.
What I wasn’t accustomed to, that’s very prevalent at Church of The Highlands, is praying with someone. I’m talking about personal prayer, like taking a person’s hand in your own, and praying out loud for their specific needs. I’ve gotta tell you that I wasn’t used to it, and I certainly wasn’t comfortable with it! My silent reaction to a person’s offer to pray for me was, “Look, you can pray for me all that you want to, and I’ll be grateful for it. But you ain’t gonna do it right here and now, not out loud, not in person, and definitely not in public!” Of course, I wouldn’t refuse to let them pray for me. I’d stand there and tolerate until they were through! Conversely, if I was listening to someone else, my thought was “I hope you don’t ask me to pray for you cause that would just be weird.”
Then God had this great idea for us to put the room in our salon. Here’s the thing: Even as the room was being constructed, I had no idea that it was gonna be a prayer room! That is, until the very first visitor asked me if I would pray for her after twenty or thirty minutes of conversation. Fighting the urge to excuse myself from the room, I nodded in agreement, closed my eyes, and began to pray.
This scenario repeated itself several times over the next few days, and in the process a couple of things happened. First, I began putting my fears on the back burner and prayed more boldly, taking my attention off of myself and what I was saying, and just letting my thoughts for that individual flow from my mouth in prayer. Secondly, I began to realize the unbelievable blessings that I was receiving for having the sacred privilege of praying for someone.
It has been fifteen months…
since we opened the prayer room in our salon. During that time, I’ve not only learned to be a good listener, but I love to listen to what’s on a person’s heart. The same can be said for prayer. Nothing humbles me more than those God-given personal opportunities to pray for someone in need. Nothing.
Funny how God works. He can take those things that we’re most uncomfortable with and make them desires of our hearts, even as we’re resisting what he’s doing.
And oh by the way…I still love to speak to people. I never pass up an opportunity to share my love for Jesus with someone, and the fire within me to take His message around the world burns as hot as ever. Well, of course God knows this. I still remind Him of it every day!