Shuffled … October 28, 2012

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Human beings love to be wanted.

I am a human being. I am not exempt from the desire.

Yet about two or maybe three times a year, a church will cancel us because some big-wig from their district office, or a presbyter, or just a guy or gal in charge, steps in and invites themselves to the church on the particular Sunday when we were supposed to be there, and we end up dumped in the weeds.

It happened this Sunday.

Fortunately, the quality pastor of the church in Columbus, Ohio, who found herself double-booked and needing to get rid of us, was kind enough point the direction towards some other possibilities, and were were able to find a lovely lady to schedule us into a replacement engagement.

I am grateful for that. I don’t like to miss an opportunity to be in a position to share my heart every chance I get. But I am also a human being and not particularly fond of being shuffled around. You do have to fight off the instinct to feel that you were unwanted by one place and only being taken by another as a favor.

This is why years ago I had to deal with the primary ego question involved in trying to do something different. That question is simple: Can I understand that people don’t want you until you make it clear that they require you?

It’s true. Even in marriage, the affection seems to die out if the passion for being together dissipates–because we just don’t make ourselves valuable enough to each other. Love is not a promise of faithfulness; love is a reaction to faithfulness and the glory of an exciting journey. We may not always like that, but it’s true.

As I thought about being “shuffled around” by two Ohio churches, I was reminded of the story of Jesus going to a Samaritan village, and due to the good testimony of a woman at a well, who had an exciting encounter with him, he was able to have quite a revival in that particular community. Yet when he came back to Samaria later on–to the very same region where he had been so beneficial and successful–the story tells us that the town fathers came out and asked him to leave.

You see, the beauty of my story is that the church in Columbus that cancelled me has never experienced my particular message and gifts, so I don’t have to take it personally. It isn’t like the story with Jesus, where the people had already been blessed by him, but on a second go-around, decided to pass.

Ouch.

Here’s what I know about being shuffled around. If you keep your cool, don’t get offended, work on your talent and what you have to share, more often than not, the place you end up seems to be better than where you were originally intending to go. I don’t know why it works out that way–maybe it’s just the way God rewards those who don’t get fussy about being stood up. But in a way, life is a lot like a game of poker. Between every hand, the deck is shuffled. Otherwise, you just keep dealing the same cards.

The question I ask myself tonight before I go and spend a wonderful morning with these new friends is: can I allow myself to be shuffled and dealt out in a new direction without feeling that I am a second-class citizen?

I really do think so.

I think the most intelligent thing we can do is realize that we become valuable to people when we bring something of value to them, and until then, we are just strangers.

So here I go, to Somerset, Ohio, being shuffled.

I guess what I’m hoping for … is a full house.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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