You know those guys who stand on the side of the road? The ones who get paid to dance around and hold a sign telling you about the great sale at the mattress store, or how if you turn left you can get a stereo installed for only $1 (with purchase of $499 or more)
Yeah, you know who I am talking about.
We don’t have any of them in Ethiopia and for some reason this time coming back to America it seems like every corner that I drive on there is one of those guys bouncing up and down trying to sell me something. I feel really bad for them because it has been somewhere around 100 degrees nearly every day since we landed here and that just looks, well…
Especially if you were unlucky enough to be in the cow suit outside a Chik-Fil-A.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of children at a kids camp in Northern California. It was really neat because this was the same camp that I first gave my heart to Jesus at when I was a kid, so getting the chance to come back and talk to these kids, and tell them about my journey, and inspire them to live for Jesus, was a real exciting time for me.
Just before I went on, I found myself back behind the stage with my head leaned up against the wall. All around me were speakers and behind-the-stage type equipment things.
You know the kind, devices with pulleys, and scaffolding and blinking lights.
I had my eyes shut tight and I was calling out to God, asking Him to come and use me. To speak through me to these children out in the crowd.
“God, come and give me words tonight”
“Plant a seed in these kids hearts, a seed that will grow and change their entire lives”
I could almost feel a pain in my stomach as I cried out to Him. I wanted so bad for Him to use me.
For my life to mean something in this way.
“I don’t care if I look like a fool”
“Just talk through me tonight” I said, as I slid my body down along the wall towards the floor where I landed on my knees.
As I sat there, tears filling my eyes and crying out from the depths of my soul to the one who redeemed me from my own wretchedness, I started thinking about the guys with the signs on the side of the road again.
“Why do these guys keep coming back in my head?” I wondered to myself as the band continued to play the song that I knew meant I would be going on next.
“What is it about standing with an arrow that has me so preoccupied, especially now, when I need to be focusing?”
And then it hit me.
No one would ever want that job. It can’t pay better than minimum wage, and how could you get noticed for doing well at it? I can just imagine the conversation right now.
“Jim, I want you to know that I really think you did an excellent job out there with the sign today, we had many new customers coming in and I don’t know how you do it, but you must be doing something right!”
I guess you could be doing poorly at it though, if one were to stand outside and send text messages all day with the sign leaned up against the light post, pointing to nowhere.
Dude! This SUX. My boss has me out here in the hotter than H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks sun and I am BRNIN UP! SCRW this, I am getin outa here! Meet me at the Pool?
“Why on earth am I thinking of this right now?” I wondered as I shifted my weight on my knees to keep the blood flowing.
“What is it about standing with a sign that keeps coming back to me?” No sooner had the thought come out than I realized why it was so relevant to this moment.
I want to be the guy holding the sign that points to Jesus. I don’t care that I look like a fool, or that I am out in the hot sun doing it, what matters is what Jesus did for me first, and how excited I am to tell His story to others.
I just want to be holding a bigger sign!
I ran out onto the stage and began sharing with the kids. And for the whole time, not a single thought crossed my mind about what I looked like, or what anyone thought of me as a person.
I was there to hold the big sign, the one pointing to heaven, and the more I bounced up and down and shook that sign all around, the more these kids would see that I was someone who really truly believed, and that God really truly does mean something to me.
I shared with them about how I had met Christ in that very building, and then how I went through more than twenty years where I thought being a Christian meant that God would serve me, and I could use Him for my own success. How I was so self absorbed that I hardly could see outside my own depravity, and how then, God came in and rescued me in the middle of my worst darkness.
I was given what I now see is the coolest role in the company. I was a sign guy for an hour to a bunch of kids who were ready to listen!
Do you want a job as a sign holder today? He needs more people in this department.
The pay is terrible, the heat is intense, and some of your friends are sure to drive by and shake their heads wondering how you “stooped so low” but the God we serve is so much more than worth it, and eternity is so much longer than the life that we have here.
The last thing I left the kids with was a demonstration. I had four of them come up and stretch out a roll of paper towels from one end of the stage to another. Then I went to the far left side and with a pen I put a tiny little dot on the paper.
“Can you see that?” I called out to the room full of kids who were glued to the stage wondering what in the heck I was up to.
“No!” Several of them screamed from the back of the room.
“Good” I said.
“It is supposed to be small. Because that little dot represents the entire sum of your life, the day you were born, when you went to school, when you got married, when your kids were born, even the day when you finally breathed your last breath in a lonely old folks home in Duluth. And the rest of this paper here. That is just the beginning of the eternity that you have in heaven with God.” I paused and let the words hang in the air, allowing the kids time to soak up the truth in this.
“What part of this paper here are you focusing on?”
How about you there reading this blog? What do you think? Want to join the sign holder department with me?