Entertaining Angels While Playing Chicken on a Sled

So I don’t have any way to prove this, and you can’t disprove it, but it really doesn’t matter. I’m going to take the liberty to allow the idea in my head that I almost ran over an angel with my sled tonight.

Tonight a gaggle of us went sledding down a hill by my friend Tricia’s house. There were a bunch of teens and a few good adult friends, too. Colton came along too and had a blast. We were there for probably 2 hours or so. About 10 – 15 minutes before we left, another couple and a kid showed up and were doing some sledding. I amost ran into the woman while Isaac and I were playing chicken by aiming our sleds diagonally from opposite sides of the hill.

Anyways, we finish up, head back to Tricia’s, and as we’re getting out of the cars, one of my teenage friends Zorina exlaims, “I can’t find my keys!” Yes, she’d had them in her pocket while sledding. Yes, they had somehow, strangely, most obviously very abnormally, fell out amongst all the bumps of sledding. You could see it in her face. “What am I doing to do!? My mom is going to KILL me!” As most of kids get their snow clothes off and head inside for pizza and hot chocolate, I’m still getting rid of wet stuff out there in the garage with Zorina and another boy, Aaryn. “So here’s the worst that could happen,” I start out. That didn’t help. Not a bit. So I tell her I’ll take her back and look for 20 minutes, but that’s all I can do tonight. But we’ll do it. Aaryn decides to come along as well.

On the way I tell Zorina that since I’m driving her back, she gets to pray. And so she does. Short, a bit desparate, a bit funny, but isn’t that how we often get when we feel silly asking for Jesus to fix something that’s totally our own stupid fault? Along the way I get to tell Z that, yeah, I agree with her that she did something stupid, but that doesn’t make HER stupid… but even so… yeah, don’t sled with keys in your pocket, especially your only SET of keys. Then again, looks who’s talking. I’ve locked ALL FOUR sets of keys in my car at the same time. I know this pain.

So we get there, and start walking from the car to the hill for the inevitable 20 minute search. I’m praying to God, “God, you could do this in 5 minutes. You could do this in 2 hours. You could do this in 30 SECONDS. Or, you could let Z suffer the consequenses. I just ask that you show up, that you’re glorified, and that if you please, we find her keys.”

It’s about that time that Zorina says, “hey, what’s that?” A stick is stuck in the snow with a pink glove on top, kind of like a flag. Also dangling from that stick are her keys. We looked for literally about 30 seconds, and within 2 minutes, we’re back in the car zooming back to Tricia’s house. You could feel the cloud nine relief all over the place. Z thanks baby Jesus on the way back, and then I start venturing into my little “visit by angels” idea.

What if… what if that family that showed up were angels sent from God? They showed up just before we left, so that we knew they were there. They were gone by the time we got back, which wasn’t much more than 20 minutes. So they didn’t stay long. It’s like they showed up so we’d be sure to see them, and once we left, they “miraculously” found her keys, stuck them on the stick with the “flag” of a pink glove, and then left. Like their mission was accomplished. Like they’d been sent for that purpose alone, and by the time we got back, they weren’t even there to thank. And so God gets the thanks instead. No names, no car descriptions, no need to try to figure it out… we’ll just stick to the Entertaining Angels story.

So we get back and Z tells the story. Aaryn backs it up. It’s cool to listen to other people tell stories you first shared with them. I get home later and tell it to Erin, and she asks me a couple times, “is that really how it happened?” No tricks? No pranks? Nope. Just plain and simple good people (or were they NOT just people?) happening to find her keys within a few minutes, put them where we’d find them, and then leave… that or they were sent for that purpose. I’ll believe the latter, because I can. And because the Bible says it happens.

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.Hebrews 13:1-3

I AM, however, glad I didn’t run over the lady on my sled. How messed up would that have been?

My Favorite Oswald Chambers Reading of the Year

If you’ve ever read My Utmost for His Highest, you’ll know Oswald Chambers was a pretty deep guy. Lots of very insightful, heart provoking stuff. Today’s reading, I think, is my favorite of all of them that I’ve read. The moment I started reading it today, many things came flooding into my heart – memories, desires, sadnesses… all of them dressed in hope. Here’s the link, and a copy:

http://www.myutmost.org/01/0114.html

Called of God

“Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8

God did not address the call to Isaiah; Isaiah overheard God saying, “Who will go for us?” The call of God is not for the special few, it is for everyone. Whether or not I hear God’s call depends upon the state of my ears; and what I hear depends upon my disposition. “Many are called but few are chosen,” that is, few prove themselves the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ whereby their disposition has been altered and their ears unstopped, and they hear the still small voice questioning all the time, “Who will go for us?” It is not a question of God singling out a man and saying, “Now, you go.” God did not lay a strong compulsion on Isaiah; Isaiah was in the presence of God and he overheard the call, and realized that there was nothing else for him but to say, in conscious freedom, “Here am I, send me.” Get out of your mind the idea of expecting God to come with compulsions and pleadings. When our Lord called His disciples there was no irresistible compulsion from outside. The quiet passionate insistence of His “Follow Me” was spoken to men with every power wide awake. If we let the Spirit of God bring us face to face with God, we too shall hear something akin to what Isaiah heard, the still small voice of God; and in perfect freedom will say, “Here am I; send me.”

Letting go of what's good to accept what's best

Yesterday I sat down to a meeting with one our larger clients to talk about planning for the future. We talked for a while about some upcoming issues that we’ve been working on for awhile and needed to get on the calendar. I’ve recently been able to do some on-target work for this client as we’ve developed some unique solutions, and it’s been good. The guy I report to at this company is a V.P. of sorts, and wears many hats. He’s H.R. He’s I.T. He’s Operations. In other words, he’s always on the move. While necessary for the business, the computer systems seem to have become much more of a liability or necessary evil to this company instead of an investment, an asset. This led us a few months ago, as we were starting to look for new lines of business, to offer up services to allow this guy to step back from I.T. and hand us the reigns… basically, to outsource their I.T.

We’re good at this. We’ve been doing it for years at our VERY biggest client that recently closed it’s doors. It’s “natural” for us, if natural means it’s something you do every day. But it’s not where we are wanting to go with the business. Should this opportunity come to fruition and we take over this role, it would require someone on site for at least 20-30 hours a week, an on-call structure that demands a large commitment from me and my staff, and, while it would be profitable and a nice amount of “guaranteed” income each month, it is not the kind of profitable and fulfilling work we’d like to found ourselves in for years to come.

“But it’s WORK,” my head told me. Pursue it! Chase it! Negotiate yourself into it. But we didn’t. We laid our offer on the table, several months ago, and it went largely dormant.

Yesterday, after my meeting with the I.T.-guy-slash-multi-hat-wearer, we went over to meet with the president of the company as well. All good; we do this from time to time; he’s a good friend and involved in what I do there. About 5 minutes into the conversation I got the “AHA” moment as to why we were meeting… here… today… “We’ve decided to hire a full time I.T. guy. We thought long and hard about the proposal you gave us, but in the end, this is the way we are choosing to go.”

I felt like I did the moment I did when I heard that my monster client was closing earlier this year. Not anger, but peace. Not stress, but relief. I could truthfully concur that their undstanding of where I was taking my company was not “outsourcing IT departments.” That’s not what we want to do. It’s good, but it’s not best. It’s something we COULD do, but not what we SHOULD do. In fact, should this opportunity have worked out for us, it would have tied our hands once again and kept us locked into a line of work we weren’t meant to be in.

It’s enjoyable to sit across the table from someone who’s just delivered what they it looks like they thought you’d think was “bad news” and be totally fine with it, even happy with it. I’ll still have work with this company… probably a lot of the same server and networking work I’ve had before, but not “big contract.” No “big commitment.” But that’s all good! Because that’s not where I’m supposed to be. I, and my company, exist to equip and empower small businesses to step forward as a company through the use of technology. I don’t exist to just maintain equipment, fix problems, and recommend purchases. Someone has to do that, but that’s not me.

For the first time in a while, I’ll have the opportunity to look into the future with my contact, with their new IT guy, and PLAN ahead. To look at I.T. as an asset, instead of a liability. To find areas in their organation where I do have something unique to offer, and where what we offer truly IS valuable, special, and worth investing in. I’m looking forward to it.

So anyways… that’s my life lesson / reminder from a business encounter. I’m finding more and more of these, and I’m loving it. What I do each day is becoming less and less of an obligation, of a job, and much more of something I’m meant to do, something where I have a role to play. And as I encounter this, as I explore this, I’m discovering that in order to say YES to what I could do, I will at times need to say NO to what I could do. In order to say YES to what’s best, I may ned to say NO to what’s good.

How true is this in the rest of life? Oh, so very, very, very true. I’ve seen it popping up in what I do or don’t do at home, what I get involved or back out of in at church, the friends I invest myself in and those I let go, the hobbies I throw myself into and the ones I toss in the trash can regardless of their initial investment.

I have much to learn in this area. There are lots of things that I need to let go. There are others I could ditch so easily that really wouldn’t make a difference. As I continue to explore what I’m here for, I am coming to understand it very well may not be some “big” thing. It may not any “one” thing. It may just be to live my life, to find where I am to give to the world what I have to offer, and to give it wholeheartedly.

While letting things go is tough, there’s another side of the coin as well. I have to jump fully INTO what I AM supposed to be doing. This may mean doing things in ways I’m not used to, taking steps to achieve goals that don’t seem all that enjoyable, but are necessary to do in order to achieve what IS enjoyable. As I say often, the journey often IS the destination, as as I look at my entire life, all the little steps, in light of the big picture, the big goals, the huge dreams, it all begins to fall together… not into a completed puzzle, but into one where I’m starting to find pieces that fit together, then big blocks of those pieces, then a key corner, then the entire outside boundary… and soon, it all starts to come together.