May 27, 2015
This Week’s Storyteller is…
Cheri Mangum, Community DeBary
A story from the past…
I met Samuel on Wednesday.
Looking for a new job opportunity is not easy – as a matter of fact, it is a very stressful time for me. It’s a time when it’s hard to turn everything over to God – but this week God made it abundantly obvious that he was in control, and I needed to let go and trust him.
On Wednesday, I arrived in Chicago and jumped quickly into a cab to head downtown. There was a small flat sack sitting on the back seat of the cab, so I mentioned to the driver that perhaps the previous passenger had left it behind. He took the sack from me and let me know that it was his. While handing it over I noticed the title of the document inside was “Financial Tithing in the Church.” And so our conversation began….
“Are you a Christian?” he asked. “Yes,” I responded. We began talking about tithing and its biblical basis and I realized that he was truly a scholar of The Word. When I asked about his background, he told me that he had his doctorate in Christian Education and had just put this document together for the church leadership of his large African American church. And, although he was not a Methodist now, he was brought up in the Methodist Church.
Of course I had to ask, “Why do you drive a cab?” He just smiled. The light bulb came on in my brain, and I said, “It’s an opportunity for you to witness – right?” He let out this large chuckle and tapped with joy on his steering wheel.
As we talked more about tithing – I began to reflect on a conversation that Tom and I had just the night before as we sat at Chili’s going through our household budget together on a napkin. We listed all of our expenses, then realized that we hadn’t included church. We had both been embarrassed that we hadn’t even put it on the list. I thought this whole conversation with Samuel was God’s way of reminding me that our tithing must be the first part of our budget.
As we arrived in the downtown traffic, he said to me, “You’re here for an interview, aren’t you?” I was so taken aback that he observed that. “How did you know that?” I asked. Again, he just smiled and began sharing his wise observations.
He said, “Just remember, you are not here today because you have the skills for the job – you are here today because God is in control and has you in this place – at this time. You are not in control, and whatever happens – is because God has a plan.”
Tears began to well up in my eyes. Crying at this point when I have an interview in two hours is not a good thing. I confirmed his suspicions that I was, in fact, there for an interview; and that although I knew I had the talent for the position, and I knew the person I was meeting with as a friend – I was so insecure.
“Can you please pray for me at 3 p.m. today?” I asked. He reached his very large, strong, hand to the back seat and took my hand. He led us in prayer and I felt my anxiousness begin to melt away. Here we were – in a Chicago cab – sitting in front of the Allegro Hotel—deep in prayer. It was like the world stood still. The valet did not approach the car to open the door – the traffic was silent to my ears. There was only the voice of Samuel interceding for God to be with me and for me to allow God to be in control.
When the prayer was over Samuel wanted to know when I would be returning to the airport, and I shared that I would be going back home the next morning. He told me he would not be working at that time to take me back to the airport. But he smiled and reminded me that God was in control.
I found myself not wanting to say goodbye to Samuel. He had made my fears go away about the interview – but somehow as I left the cab – I just felt lonely. I wanted more time with Samuel.
Up Next Week…
Yong Hwang, First Lakeland
In anticipation of our Annual Conference and its theme of Next Generations, we offer a story of intergenerational mentoring that crosses both generations and cultural backgrounds. The faithful servant at First UMC, Lakeland, shares his story about how dedication to intergenerational mentoring and remaining faithful to God can help heal brokenness. It also inspires the rest of us to pay attention to whom God sends our way.
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011