Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Texas Two-Step

I am back in Texas! I am presently in a community called Frisco, (a suburb of Dallas), writing this blog from my room at Homewood Suites. I am here to attend the Elevate08 Conference at Covenant Church pastored by Mike Hayes. I really decided to come here at the request of my friend, Pastor and Author Phil Munsey, who is on the docket as one of the Conference speakers and since I had to cancel my Pastor's Conference trip to Houston a few weeks ago because of Hurricane Ike, I felt this would be a suitable replacement -- so here I am.

The Conference is going well. The church and its staff are doing a great job of hosting the conference. They have great music and singing. I have enjoyed good preaching and excellent workshops. Making new friends and rekindling relationships with guys from my past. Even though I feel like somewhat of an "outsider" (must be that California thang, y'all!) I have gleaned much from being here.

The real reason I wanted to share, however, is an incident that happened Monday night. I flew out of LAX on Monday afternoon, changed planes in Denver (always an adventure) and finally arrived in Dallas at about 10:00pm. Upon arrival, I called my wife (whom I miss very much) and let her know that I had "made it." I picked up my rental car -- which happened to be a sweet Dodge Charger -- hooked up my Garvin GPS Navigator, and headed for Frisco in a slight rain!

Driving north out of the airport I came through the community of Grapevine and passed Ed Young's huge Fellowship Church campus. I was impressed by the sheer magnitude of his place -- one of the largest churches in America. As I was driving, I started looking for a place to grab a bite to eat. It was just after 8:00pm California time and I had not eaten anything but airplane snacks all day. I was on the lookout for a Chick-fil-a drive-thru or a Whataburger (Texas' answer to our In & Out Burger) and low and behold I see the lights of a Steak 'n Shake Restaurant.

For the uninitiated, Steak 'n Shake is a midwest institution originally out of Illinois. Steak 'n Shake is the home of the "Steakburger Sandwich" and, my personal favorite, the "Orange Freeze." If you have never had the opportunity, you just don't know what you're missing.

When I saw the Steak 'n Shake, it was on the other side of the freeway and I had just passed the exit. My GPS companion was loudly telling me to continue on to the programmed destination of my hotel and I questioned whether or not I should stop to eat or just keep on going. For some reason, unlike me, I decided to stop and backtrack to the Steak 'n Shake. There was a lot of construction going on in the area with detours and closed ramps, etc. So I ended up meandering my way to finally get to the restaurant. As I was getting ready to drive-thru, something told me to go inside. So I parked the car and went in.

Inside the Steak 'n Shake, there were just 11 customers and I made 12. It was late on a slow Monday night, so the staff was small, also. I stood at the front waiting to be seated as the sign told me to. As I waited, I noticed that three ladies in a nearby booth were looking at me and talking amongst themselves. Finally, one of them said to me, "Weren't you on the plane from Denver?" I replied; "Yes, I was." She said; "I thought I recognized you from the flight." I said something about the odds of being in two places at the same time on the same day - what a coincidence. The ladies agreed as the waitress showed up to lead me to a booth in the back. I told the ladies it was nice meeting them and followed the server to my booth.

Upon finishing my Steakburger and Orange Freeze, I headed to the front counter to pay my bill. As I approached the register, one of the three ladies was finishing up paying her bill and asking for directions from the waitress. She said, "I'm from California and if you could direct me to the right highway, I would appreciate it." The waitress began giving her directions to get to where she needed to go as the Manager rang me out. After completing my transaction, I told the lady; "I'm from California, too." She said, "Really? What part?" I said, L.A. -- Torrance, actually." She yelled at me, "You've got to be kidding!" I said; "No, I'm not -- born and raised there." She said, "That's incredible -- I'm from Torrance and I went to North High School in the Sixties with Chuck Norris!"

We spoke for a few minutes and she asked me what I was doing in Texas. I told her that I was here for a Pastor's Conference. When I said that I was a Pastor, they all said, "I knew there was something different about you!" (I took that in a good way) She wondered if I knew her old Pastor, Gary Leary, and I said yes, we served together on the T.U.R.F. Pastor's Group (Torrance United for Renewal and Fellowship). She went on to say that she retired and moved to Texas a few years ago and that her cousin (also from Torrance) had just flown in on the same flight that I was on coming to visit her.

The cousin, who had been in the Rest Room, then joined the conversation and was told that I was Pastor of a Church in Torrance. What she said nearly blew me away; "I have been looking for a church in Torrance." I was floored. You see, I thought it was about a Steakburger and an Orange Freeze. I thought it was about curbing my hunger. I thought I had made a U-turn just for me. When all along, God brought me over 1,200 miles away to share His love and grace with somebody from my city who, right now, is looking for a church home! Of course, I told them about and invited them to the incredible Cornerstone Christian Center. I then blessed them and went on my way rejoicing. Who knows? Maybe that is the reason I came here.

Isn't that just like God?

In my life it is.

Until Next Time.