Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:9-10 NIV
Do you believe, as in the case of Jeremiah, that God can put words in your mouth? I’m not talking about putting thoughts in your head, but actually giving you something to say, and while you’re saying it, you’re wondering “Where did that come from?”
The first time this happened to me was in August of 2006, the day that I proclaimed myself to be a soldier of Christ. I believe with all that is in me that the Holy Spirit not only gave me the words to say, but the courage to say them. If you haven’t done so, I invite you to read The Tattoo, which was posted on 12/15/2008.
I most recently experienced this “God Phenomenon” again a couple of months ago, and that’s what I want to share with you today.
My wife Jackie and I own and operate Salon M², a hair salon, here in Birmingham. Since we opened our business in December of 2005, God has blessed us with financial success and surrounded us with an amazing group of people that work with us.
As it pertains to this story, it’s worth noting that during this period of time, our salon has become a ministry of sorts for me. I won’t even attempt to count the number of times that I’ve had the opportunity to share what God has done in my life, to offer counsel in areas that I’m qualified to do so, and of course, to pray for those in need.
Almost a year ago a restaurant adjacent to our salon went out of business for financial reasons. Several months passed and the space was still unoccupied when Jackie and I began entertaining the notion of enlarging the salon. Our team had grown to the point that we actually had more stylists (thirteen) than we did stations (ten) for them to work at. We were tripping all over each other, and scheduling had become a nightmare!
I got in touch with our landlords to discuss the possibility of taking a portion of the available space next door. We kicked a few ideas around but never got down to serious negotiations.
Several more months elapsed and the space was still available, I guess because of the economy and the fear that accompanied it. After all, this probably wasn’t the most opportune time for someone to open a new business. While Jackie and I would talk about expanding the salon every once in a while, I don’t believe that either of us was sold on the idea of spending the money for the build-out and equipment, or the idea of signing another five year lease. We’re both fifty-seven, and while that’s not really old, the fact remains that Jackie owned her first salon at the tender age of sixteen! And me? I began working in my family’s mom & pop neighborhood grocery when I was nine years old. You do the math; both of us joined the working ranks a long time ago.
That, combined with the fact that we lost a couple of our senior stylists right after the first of the year, pretty much ended any talk of expansion.
Still, the space remained vacant, and every once in a while, our conversation would turn to the possibility of enlarging the salon. After all, it was available, and it wouldn’t take that much money, and we should take advantage of the opportunity because once it was gone it would be gone, and we expected that God would continue to bless us with growth in the salon, and why shouldn’t we just go out on yet another limb and just do it? Huh?
Well, because we just weren’t sure. There were as many reasons to proceed with the expansion as there were to leave things as they were. We just didn’t know what to do.
We began to pray for some clarity. Every day, for weeks, while in prayer I would ask God for some direction as to what we should do. I would ask, and then I would listen. Ask, and then listen. No answers.
One night, as I was drifting off to sleep, my thoughts turned once more to the space next door. I remember saying, “Look, God. I’m not asking for much; just a little insight. This may not be the best time, and it’s a bit of money, and we want to do things according to Your will. Can’t You just give me a little message, or some kind of sign, as to what we should do? An answer would be great.”
The very next morning Jackie and I were sitting at the kitchen table having coffee. I had just finished reading some passages from my One Year Bible, and we were both reflecting on what I’d read.
A moment of silence had passed when Jackie looks me straight in the eyes and says “There’s something that I need to tell you, and you’re not really gonna want to hear it.”
Thinking that I’d done something wrong, my immediate response was “Well, then don’t tell me!”
Acting as if she’d never heard my protest, or having elected to ignore it, she continued. “Look, I know that God is first, and The Seed of Hope is your passion. I know that you want to go out and speak to people, and change the salon industry, and take God’s message around the world. And you know that I support you 100% in whatever you want to do for God.”
“And?” I questioned.
“But, our salon has a different feeling when you’re in it. A lot of our guests love speaking with you. And the people that work with us have more accountability when you’re there. It’s just different when you’re not around.”
“And?” I asked again, having no idea as to where Jackie was going with this.
“So, the way I see it, if we can figure out a way for you to do your “God thing” and keep you in the salon, that’s definitely what we should do.”
Not a moment passed when I looked at Jackie and said “That’s it! We’re gonna move forward with expanding the salon, and we’ll add the extra stations, and we’ll add the color bar and make-up counter, just like we talked about. And right up in the front, next to our lobby, where that extra door is located, I’m gonna have a small office, and on the outside of the door, facing the parking lot, it’s gonna say The Seed of Hope Ministries.”
Jackie gave me this questioning look, and anticipating what was coming next, I simply said, “Look, until this moment I hadn’t thought about any of this. I don’t know what it means. All I know is that I last night I was asking God to give me a message as to what we should do, and this morning He gave it to me. He gave me an answer. And He put the words in my mouth.”
It’s two months later, and I’m sitting in that office that God told me to build for Him. Well, there have been two small changes to my vision.
I’m sitting, not in an office, but in a room that was built for fellowship, mentoring, counsel, and of course, prayer. There will be a small desk in the corner to accommodate my laptop, and three or four chairs in the center of the room facing one another. That’s it. A room for Him. And it’s right in the middle of a hair salon. Go figure.
I pray that this room will be a safe haven, a sanctuary, and a place of spiritual nourishment for those in need. I pray that the Holy Spirit will give me the right words to give to each person that sits in this room with me.
And the writing on the front door? It simply says:
The Seed of Hope
A Gift for Tomorrow
If you’re ever in the neighborhood, please stop in. I’m always up for coffee and conversation, about God, about living, and about life. What else is there?
See you next week!