RSS

Tag Archives: Northern Virginia

The Turning Point In My Life, Conclusion

(This is part 3.)

What had I done wrong? What was my problem? Would I ever be able to go into ministry? And then, in a flash, the Spirit of God led me to 2 Corinthians 3:5…

“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” (NASB)

Now, I still had Jim’s word’s floating in my mind, “Prove yourself in the marketplace,” but in a moment I heard different words, not audibly, mind you, but real nonetheless…

“What are you trying to prove? What makes you think you can prove anything?”

In the future, I would look back on this moment as another precious time in my life when the clouds parted and I saw the sun, bright and clear and distinct. Suddenly I understood. In a flash, in a moment of time, everything was absolutely different in my life.

Of course – why hadn’t I seen this before? Undoubtedly, this idea planted in my brain that I should prove myself had some logic to it, a secular logic to be sure, but logic nonetheless. But logical thinking and biblical thinking are often, not always, miles apart. The idea of “proving myself” was actually full of pride, as if I was operating alone in life.

Just suppose that I had gone on to be a 6 figure salesman or regional rental manager. Operating under the premise I had adopted, I would have assumed that I had done it, that I was able, and I would have taken this convoluted thinking into ministry. That would have been a disaster.

Moses warned the people of Israel:

“Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth…” Deuteronomy 8:17-18a (ESV)

What makes you think you can prove anything?

For years I had labored to show myself “worthy” of ministry. Now, I understood that the only way I could ever be “worthy” would be under His power, whether that was the marketplace or ministry. I thought I needed to show myself adequate. But I had failed to remember that everything comes from Him.

2 Corinthians 3:5 was doing a work on my heart. I was not adequate, not to be a salesman or a manager, not to be a pastor, or to be a husband or a father…not to be anything. I was totally dependent on Him. And so, that day in Virginia I determined to make a change in the way I prayed. No longer would I ask God for “help”. “Help” was for bodybuilders who had done lots of repetitions but needed a friend to press the weight just one more time. “Help” was what the person asked for who was already doing 90% of the work, who just needed another 10% to get over the top. But I saw that I couldn’t even really muster 1%. I stopped asking Him to help me, and I started asking Him to enable me.

I walked that trail with a song in my heart and a glorious freedom that I hadn’t known for years. Never had I ever been more thrilled to find myself weak and unable. It was a sort of gospel déjà vu.

How so? In days to come, I would see that this Spirit-driven insight – I am unable – was simply another aspect of the gospel for day to day life. Paul wrote to the Colossians: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,” Colossians 2:6 (ESV) Inability was the one key insight I needed to come to faith – I am unable to live a righteous life. I am a sinner. Therefore, I am unable to please God…I need Jesus – His work on the cross and resurrection. But now I was beginning to understand that I was unable to do anything apart from Him. And just as the gospel freed me to rest in Christ’s righteousness, now this fresh view of the gospel freed me to rest in His power for everyday life.   Of course, I would still need to step out and work hard in whatever He called me to do, but now I had a fresh understanding that even this stepping out was driven by His power and grace, and certainly all the results were His as well.

The greatest blessing of that day? I saw that I no longer had anything to prove.

I began to think about how I should go into ministry.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on May 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Turning Point In My Life, Part 2

(This is part 2. Part one is here.)

I walked into my first dealership one January morning and with a whirlwind of energy, greeted the parts manager with a smile: “Hi, I’m Roger Knowlton with Premier Autoware. I’d like you to have one of my pens – careful it tends to develop feet and walk away. Say, I’ve got some problem solving items for your body man. Does he handle the P.O.’s or do you?” Sometimes for variety’s sake, I shook it up: “It’s a straight-back pen. If it doesn’t work, give it straight-back.”

Premier taught me to memorize the sales pitches, and I honestly didn’t really know what I was saying, especially when it came time to sell the items – “You know that problem with brake lines that crimp and break?” – Honestly, I didn’t know the problem, but the mechanics I talked to always seemed to know what I was talking about. So I continued spouting our “solution-oriented” items, and sometimes by the grace of God, they bought. I hadn’t even owned a car until my uncle Jack took me shopping after graduation, and here I was, a non-car guy getting thrown into the world of body shops and dealerships and service stations…and sales.

I hated it.

These were dark days. I can still smell the curry and spices (there were many Indian residents) down the hallway of the little studio apartment building I had moved into. I found this tiny place (each “apartment” smaller than a dorm room) very near my old dorm, Forbes Hall, and thought it would do me fine. But it was winter in the Midwest, and on top of seasonal affective disorder, I was doing something I was never cut out to do, not to mention feeling very lonely and losing more and more hope by the day.

Walking along the sidewalk in some nameless town one day, I was carrying my case full of solution items for mechanics in one hand and my display book in the other. I don’t remember praying very much that winter, but here was an exception – I stopped and looked up at heaven, and said, “God, do I have to do this the rest of my life?”

It turned out the answer was no. I heard about another sales job working for a company called Mahon Marketing out of Chicago. They needed a manufacturer’s representative for central and southern Illinois. I applied, had good rapport with the owner Bruce, and was hired. I hadn’t proved much of anything at Premier – maybe I could start proving myself at Mahon. Or not. After a year and a half or so with Mahon, still living in Champaign, I applied to work at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I moved north and went to work for them in the Chicago-land area, and after a year or so transferred out to the Washington, D.C. to help my friend John start a church.

And so it was that I found myself four or five years out of college, living in Northern Virginia working for Enterprise…and still not having proved much of anything. I hadn’t shown myself to be much of a salesman, nor had I proven myself in the rental car management area. All in all, I seemed to be decidedly mediocre. The church that John and I had started, however, was off and running. Cedar Run Community Church was a breath of fresh air in my otherwise stale life.

And then one day I took a walk to talk to God. If you’ve never been there, Northern Virginia, suburbs to D.C., is really quite beautiful, with miles of trails made from converted train lines, and I loved to hike these and talk to the Lord. It was a glorious day, and I found myself asking my Creator some questions.

What had I done wrong? What was my problem? Would I ever be able to go into ministry? And sometimes, when you ask God questions like this, out of His goodness and grace, He answers. And His answer would be the turning point of my life.

To be continued…tomorrow.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: