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renewing Persistence

by | Dec 13, 2020 | Nat King Cole, Persistent, renew

Three amazing gifts of moving to the DC area and working for Fannie Mae changed the course of my life.  The first was realizing that THESE people had a LOT of money, so trying to fight and catch them was very unlikely.  The second I have written about before – now realizing that I was never going to be a VP at Fannie.  The third was having my foundation shaken in a way that caused me to really question everything, all while watching the leaders around me at “work” go to war with each other about things that ultimately didn’t matter…

…I already had a consistent faith practice that was present, but some of it was going through the motions… until I got an unexpected “gift”.  Our new minister decided to start a number of ministries, which in retrospect completely changed the church and many lives.  His leadership was bold, and would eventually rub many the wrong way, but for this chapter, he had a group of us in a room talking about Men’s ministry.  I was maybe 33 at the time and agreed to be the VP- how hard could that be?  Well a few months later, the President stepped back, and now I was “in charge”… 

Shaken by the cancellation of his show was the start for Nat.  He often performed at venues that would allow Black artists, but would not admit black fans… or allow them to stay.  Like the Sands Hotel in Vegas, at which he would often have months of sold-out shows…. And yet had to drive to the “other” side of town to eat, stay, and relax.  He had enough money to buy a home in LA, and as you might guess, his rich neighbors protested… and he mostly just ignored them.  His father was a Methodist preacher, and while he was very private, I suspect that the album today’s track came from in 1960 was an important statement for him, with the great Gordan Jenkins orchestra and the First Church of Deliverance Choir.

… which is why I was standing on my car, holding my cell phone in the air – this was when service was sketchy in many places, particularly out in the wilderness down by the riverside, where we were having a Men’s Retreat… and since I was in charge, I needed a program.  Fighting too hard at “work”, I hadn’t had any time to prepare, and now was “phoning a friend” – luckily a Minister… and my Father In Law, who had his own faith tested early in his life. He gave me a few ideas and texts, and then the connection was lost, and I was there alone heading back into the small cabin with 15 men… 

We had, of course, brought dinner – Lasagna from Price Club (pre-CostCo), which was just about finished.  We were hungry so I slid it out, and the pan collapsed… and all of the Lasagna was now on the oven door.  A man standing there immediately stepped up and said, “No problem” and scraped it off the door and back into the pan… hence forming a key phrase to this day for the Men’s Group:  “Oven Door Lasagna”.  We all laughed so hard, and had an amazingly renewing weekend… 

Watching the warfare of the “work” I was now involved in with my day job was the punctuation point for me, and I hope for some of you.  There is always more work and crazy things to do, and the illusion of more money, fame, and power.  And for some, it may eventually be real.  What I can tell you at this point is those Men saved my life.  It turns out that group is still going… 30 years on, and surprisingly is in the top 2% of Men’s groups across the country.  And sure that is cool, but the best part is that those Men after all these years are still there.  I could call any of them at any hour and they would be there for me. I know you have heard that – I have lived it on both ends..

One of our speakers in that season talked about how most Men didn’t have 6 close friends… close enough to be Pallbearers at their funeral.  I suspect numbers for some women might be similar.  What about you?  Where are you in the journey that matters most?  In this year particularly, where everything we hold dear has been shaken, I can tell you I have a foundation that has been tested already, and is built on THE Rock.  As you head into this day of Sabbath my prayer is that you will find the peace and renewal that are there… and like me, you Ain’t Going to Study War No More.

 

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