Just a phone call. July 25, 2016
This morning I heard a report that the iphone is quickly reaching its’ one billionth unit sold. Including all the various communication devises available, it’s hard to imagine a person who has not received a phone call (at least in the U.S.) We would all be rich if we had a nickel for ever call we’ve either sent or received over our lifetime. Yet, throughout all those contacts, there must be a few that stand out. As Kim and I enter the final section of our sabbatical journey two in particular stand out, both of which came from Paul Granlund.
The first came on a sunny afternoon in November 1998. I had known Paul for a few years as he and Candy were in the same small group as Kim and I during our Intern year at Milwaukie Covenant (1991-92). Even though it had been a few years since we had spoken to each other, I immediately recognized Paul’s voice. Following the initial greetings, Paul jumped right to the reason for his call. He asked if we would consider applying for the Pastoral position that was open at MCC following the unfortunate retirement of Pastor Allen. If the surprise of hearing Paul’s voice wasn’t enough, the question he posed certainly sent my mind spinning.
Kim and I had spent three remarkable years with the people at MCC. I had been mentored by Pastor Allen and several of the church Elders. Our growing family had been welcomed and loved by the church family. We had so many great memories of MCC that it was tough to say “NO”. Yet, we loved where we were at. From not knowing how to spell, not to mention pronounce Kearney, MO, (1992) to calling the place “home” (1998) it was just as difficult to say “YES”. As Paul and I spent a little time on the phone catching up, I gave him the affirmative response of “No, but Yes”. This was all prefaced on waiting to see where God leads.
That was a memorable phone call.
The second call came in April 1999 as Kim and I sat having lunch at the Applebee’s restaurant on 82nd. Ave. This was during our candidating weekend at MCC. I had just preached and the congregation met to decide whether or not to extend the “call” to pastor MCC. Paul lent us his cellphone and we went to Applebee’s. I don’t remember all that we talked about as we waited for their decision, but I do remember Paul’s call. He said that the church was extending the “call” to pastor Milwaukie Covenant. I remember seeing tears streaming down Kim’s face as Paul and I talked. As we drove back to the church I shared in those tears. The tears were a mixture of sadness and excitement. We realized that the Lord was leading us into a new chapter of our life together in His service.
It has been that Oregon chapter that we have been reflecting upon over the last couple weeks.
Last Saturday we continued our hiking adventure by attempting to reach Bald Mountain. I say attempt, because while crossing the Muddy River, I slipped and fell, damaging not only my pride but several areas over my body. The worst was my big toe, it currently looks like an overcooked brauts. The real problem was that we were at least six miles from the car. During the “pre-fall” part of our hike and the much longer “post-fall” section, we had time to reflect upon the spiritual markers experienced during our time at MCC. One thing that stands out to me is that during our time here, there hasn’t been one week that we have not noticed God working in our midst. This is not to brag about anything or anybody other than God and what John 5:17 says, “My father is always at work to this very day, and I too, am working.”
Last Sunday we heard a televangelist preacher say that we need to remember when God did the unusual, the amazing. He said that when we get stressed out with __________, remember the times God has shown up. As Kim and I listened to the sermon we were both in amazement because he was talking about this sabbatical, (this in itself was a marker for us). G.U.T.S.
Both times when Paul Granlund called we were being led into a new direction, but by a familiar God. It’s nice remembering that we have a history with Him. We recently heard this phrase at a production of Moses in Branson, MO;
“It’s not about being great, it’s about serving the greater one.”