Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Shepherd, a Mayan Priest, & a Pastor All Walk into a...

...bar church just to discover 
they are one and the same person.

The rain pounded the windshield and I was thankful to be sitting in the seat to the right. As Edgar drove through the darkened streets he explained, "I am very glad you are with me. The other way is blocked tonight, and usually I would have to sit in traffic. This way is not safe, but since you are with me, I can take it."

My head turned to him as I replied, "what?"

Even now I am not sure if he was joking or serious. I think most likely he was joking about something serious. 

It was an incredible and uneventful ride to the airport to pick up friends. Edgar asked me if I had planned to be a pastor in Guatemala. I paused and took in a breath before I gave him my answer. "No."

I wasn't sure what he would think about this simple, negative answer to a calling that has grown so large. I resisted it. I did not intend to be a pastor. 

To my relief he laughed with a smile and a beautiful conversation commenced. We exchanged stories about how the plans for our lives seemed to take such divergent courses... and yet, we ended up exactly where we were intended to be.

Sometimes God's plans take time. Sometimes it takes a lot of preparation to get us ready to fit into His story. For me, it was a 30 year journey to reach this point. Finally, I feel like I am right where I need to be.

Now, I  don't place any real meaning into these little tidbits to follow below... I just find them oddly interesting.

I was telling Edgar about how I was stopped in a street market in Antigua by a jade dealer. He shoved a book of Mayan symbols under my nose and asked me my exact birth-date. He needed to know specifically the day, month, and year.  He flipped through the book and showed to me the symbol of the jaguar.

Each date on the calendar was associated with a symbol that represented the person born with that date. The jaguar was the symbol of the Mayan priest.

I was telling this to Edgar and again he laughed as he told me, "well, you know what the translation for shepherd is in Guatemala don't you... it means pastor.

I just had to shake my head at the perfect absurdity of the moment. Here I am... a pastoring shepherd in a mayan land with the birthdate of a priest. 

You just can't make this stuff up. God has molded me to become what He wants me to be for this place. I am blown away every day by His provision and convergence.

Each Sunday I speak to an audience that is cross-cultural, and the education level ranges from street savvy graduates of the school of life, as well as doctoral level intellectuals. People from around the nations of the world worship in our church.

And I am among the least qualified. But I am called. And I understand that I am here to share my heart... to simply tell the story that God has called us all to be a part in living. And so, while I wrestle each week with feelings of doubt, inadequacy, and fear... I take those final steps to the microphone with the knowledge that my God has called me here, and my only requirement is obedience. 

It is never a fear problem, it is a faith problem. 

I am to allow my faith to overcome my fear, and to simply tell the story that we daily walk. Sometimes I fear that my words sound trite and cheesy, but the older I get and the more I see, the more I understand that this belief is real.

Our troubles, fears, doubts... are all just temporary blips on an eternal timeline. 

And so I take the mic and I begin to tell the story of my God... while the beginnings of a joke run through my mind -
So, a Shepherd, a Mayan Priest, and a Pastor all walk into a bar and the bartender says, "table for one?"

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