Lessons around the fire on a snowy day

I had just graduated from college with a heart on fire for the Lord and decided that I wanted to go and plant a church in a suburb of Nashville. My wife and I packed up everything in a U-Haul and headed to Tennessee. I didn’t realize there was a new church in every school of this growing city. All I knew was I had a heart to see people saved and wanted to see a great church planted. 

Fast forward a few months. Things seemed to be going really well. We had a good group of people meeting with us each week and we were moving ahead with enthusiasm and momentum. All that changed in the course of a phone call. I was informed that my wife, who was pregnant with our first child, had been in a car accident. By God’s grace, she and the baby were fine, but the doctor put her on bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy. She was unable to finish out the school year as a teacher. 

I immediately sought out another job in order to get insurance for my family. I was introduced to a country music artist who also owned a construction business. He was kind and offered me a job with minimum pay but one that provided insurance. I will never forget his words to me as he offered me the job: “Nathan, I am happy to give you a job. However, you need to know it is not glamorous and will not be fun. I will hire you to go around the construction sites picking up the trash that contractors leave.” In the moment I was simply grateful that God had provided. 

One morning as I arrived at the site, it was cold and snowing. I lit a fire in a 50-gallon trash barrel and began filling it with scraps of wood and paper that were scattered across the site. Standing around the fire I started asking God what he was doing. I didn’t understand how I could be so on fire for him, leave a great church and ministry, and yet find myself alone picking up trash every day.

As I laid my heart bare before the Lord, he met with me around that trash barrel. God taught me two major lessons that I needed to hear and still live by today. First, he showed me that he didn’t call me to plant a church; he simply brought me there to plant something in me. I fell in love with the concept of planting, but was not called to it. I did, however, need to be brought to a place in life where I could be introduced to humility.

I had to learn how to love God and serve him in obscurity before he would ever bless me with any measure of influence.

The second lesson I learned that day is one that absolutely changed my life and how I lead. He taught me that if I was not willing to pick up trash for him when no one was looking, then I certainly was not ready to lead anything for him with anyone looking. I had to learn how to love God and serve him in obscurity before he would ever bless me with any measure of influence.

In the next few weeks, my wife and I felt God was shifting us into a new season of life and ministry. We closed down the planting process and moved back to Texas. Some may claim that I failed at planting a church, but I know what God planted in me helped sustain me in life and ministry. As painful as the process was, I wouldn’t trade it for anything today!

What lesson is God teaching you today? What is your fire-barrel-on-a-snowy-day story? Just remember, whatever you are called to in this season, even if it is trash duty or serving in what seems like obscurity, God sees you and is working in you in order to work through you.

I love you, I believe in you, and I am in your corner!

Executive Director
Nathan Lorick
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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