I still remember waiting for the mailman each day for over a month. For many weeks before, I had saved any leftover change from my allowance until I had enough to purchase the money order, made out to the Johnson Smith Company. This mail order company advertised in the back pages of almost every comic book I had ever seen. With every issue, I would always complete my reading by scanning all of the weird, exotic and enthralling items I could easily purchase for very little, as long as I included $1.95 for shipping and handling. In one particular issue, I was enticed by the caption that described the sheer pleasure I would receive by purchasing an authentic Australian boomerang. With very little effort, I imagined going on a safari in the great outback (out back of my parent’s house) and taking out with this weapon from down-under the wild beasts that surely must have roamed the suburbs of Charlotte.
One day, the postman spied me sitting along the side of the road. Picking up the package for which he knew I must have been waiting, he tossed it to me with a wink and a smile. I imagined that he, too, must have waited for some enchanting merchandise from this company when he was a boy. I quickly tore open the wrapper and whipped out this piece of bent, flat wood. No sooner had I got it in my hand than I flung it with all my might, watching it as it cut through the air, spinning like a top. I watched with great anticipation for it to return back to my waiting hand…but it did not. Instead, it continued on a trajectory away from me until gravity finally pulled it back to earth and it fell softly in the grass. Time after time, I repeated the steps, hoping that it just needed to be “broken in,” but each time led to repetitive disappointment. After a while, I came to the realization that rarely does anything return to you if you let it go.
Just a few months ago, this understanding that I developed from my childhood plight was vividly challenged. I was going to the grocery store with a friend, Katie Easter, who, you may remember, filled in for me in the March issue. Over the years, I have watched Katie mature from a lanky pre-teen to a confident and industrious young lady. As our journey was progressing, our conversation turned to that of faith. Katie surprised me by telling me that she remembered a pivotal moment in her faith development came from reading an article I had written for DevoZine, a pocket devotional for teens within my denomination.
The piece I wrote for this magazine was of my experience in struggling with claiming a faith in God when I was younger. It recounted that although I had been raised in a Christian home and as the son of a preacher, I never had one of those “slap you in the face, come to Jesus” moments as many of my friends had. Naturally, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with me. The article then continued to tell how I talked with a pastor about my consternation, and his response. The kindly old parson smiled lightly and asked, “Tim, when did you first realize that your parents loved you?” After a few awkward moments, I responded, “I guess I’ve always known that.” He continued to smile, but even more so as he quipped, “Why should it be any different with God?”
Now many years later, this young lady, whom I did not know when I wrote the article, was relaying to me how it had helped her to better understand her faith in God. She unknowingly had returned a boomerang I let fly years earlier. Thank you, Katie!
The prophet Isaiah wrote that God said, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”” (Isaiah 55:11 NIV). Many times for pastors, we speak what we perceive to be a word from God, but rarely do we know if it is heard. So, anytime we find out that something we said or did made a difference, we are renewed and reconfirmed in our calling. Therefore, I encourage you to take a moment to boomerang back to anyone who may have helped you in your faith journey. Their spirits will be refreshed in knowing that their calling is not in vain.