February 24, 2006 § 9 Comments
I begrudgingly push my barbeque chicken salad to the side. Begrudgingly because it is far more exceptional than you would expect from a food court salad, but I don’t have time to finish it. I just snuck another bite…. I will do that from time to time. But I can’t devote myself entirely to the consumption of the salad because bigger things are happening. Normally, I would have plenty of time for the salad, (or I would make time because it is really that good) but I had an experience that I am going to have trouble putting into words that ate into my two-hour lunch today. I’ll come back to that.
Donald Miller just took the stage. I’ll come back to that.
I am at the National Pastors Convention. Don’t ask me how I ended up here. Regardless, God has me here, and there is no question that this is where he wants me. After all, Donald Miller just took the stage.
I am the punk in the back of the room tapping away on his laptop. It can’t possibly appear that I’m paying attention, but I am, and I need to do this. I need to capture in a moment, in words, what God is doing in me, and if I wait, I’ll wait…and wait and the words will never find life, and they’ll die, and with them will die the remembrance of what God is teaching me, and with that will die what God is doing in my heart. So, I type. But I’m still listening.
Zondervan, a Christian publishing company, is sponsoring the convention. They’ve got a bookstore set up here at the conference, and…now hold onto your seats…everything is fifty-percent off. (Did you sense the subtle sarcasm? If you’d heard me say it, it wouldn’t have been even remotely subtle.) Despite the rock-bottom, Wal-Mart-esque nature of the prices, a similar sale at Family Christian Stores would not usually reduce me to a ravenous chimpanzee in a banana tree. (I tried to avoid the “kid in a candy store” cliché there, but I’m pretty sure my metaphor was less than effective.) But…I am that chimp. I find myself running from table to table devouring the cliff-note versions of the books that I can find on the back covers. I gather them up in my arms and I’m ready to march to the checkout. Why? What is wrong with me? I have never been “that guy!” But I am hungry (not just for my salad, the smell of which is beginning to nauseate me). I am hungry for knowledge. I am famished for wisdom, and God is letting me be a glutton. Afterall, I’m sitting in a seminar by Donald Miller.
I expected this to be the highlight of my day, but God had better plans. (He always has better plans. Just once, I want to come up with the plan. Like, “Don’t tell God, but this year we’re throwing him a surprise birthday party!”) I was sitting in the general session this morning, when Josh called me outside and he and his dad explained to me that we were going to see a man named Dennis Kinlaw, a former professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and a respected Biblical theologian.
We stepped into the elevator and my primary thought was, “I wonder how long this will take. We’re supposed to break for lunch in half an hour. “ Once on the eighth floor, we found our way to our open doorway and found a man, laboriously rising up out of his chair. A smile broke upon his wrinkled face as he made is way towards us, hobbling due to his injured knee, extending his hand in warm greeting. And, suddenly, we were immersed in the blessing that God has bestowed upon this man.
We sat in the presence of this Mr. Kinlaw for an hour and a half as he mused on the wonderment he still finds in the depths of God’s word. Despite his failing body, his mind is sharp. As he began to speak about the theology of the holy Trinity he leaned forward in his chair, his hands became animated, rubbing together in a furious rhythm, a smirk found its way the surface of his lips, and the giggle of a child erupted from his throat. And from his mind poured forth wisdom, mesmerizing wisdom. And God gripped my heart and my throat went dry in thirst for knowledge and understanding, wisdom and truth. Lunch was forgotten.
When we finally excused ourselves, not from desire but from necessity, we had little more than forty-five minutes left for lunch. Regardless, Josh and I made our way directly to the bookstore to purchase Mr. Kinlaw’s book in hope that in some way we may recreate what we had experienced. Please understand the weight of this…buying a book trumped eating. That’s big!
And now I am sitting in a seminar by Donald Miller. I am immersed, and I only want to go deeper. God is preparing me for something, doing something in me, using me. Use me. Whatever your purposes, God, use me.
This is far too long to be a blog. I’m sorry. Brevity is not necessarily a gift of mine. I’ll work on it.
(By the way, I threw away my salad. Room temperature, barbecue smelling piles of limp lettuce. No thanks. I have too many food issues for that.)