Updated: Jun 26, 2020
I have a new friend ya'll and I am so excited. Back in November of 2018 or so, our church decided to transition from traditional church pews to chairs in our main sanctuary. I am so appreciative to have a spiritual leader who hears from God. I think God knew something (Covid-19) was coming and He wanted us to be prepared. It's going to be much easier to socially distance with chairs than pews. Anyway, we took pictures of the pews and posted them for sale on social media. We received a plethora of responses and were able to sell them all. We received inquiries from a diverse group of people wanting or needing the pews for various reasons, some which were very interesting! We had an inquiry from a gentleman who was relocating to N.C. from Texas who wanted to purchase one pew and repurpose it as part of his dining room ensemble. We had a few churches purchase a few of them to use traditionally but most interestingly we received an inquiry from my new friend, Mr. Kirkland Maxwell.
Kirkland Maxwell, my new friend, drove to Shelby, NC from Atlanta, GA to purchase several pews. He was particularly interested in the hardwood composition of the pews. Kirkland pulled up at our church in his truck with his trailer in tow and greeted me with the warmest smile! I was prepared and ready to help him load the pews until he told me that he had planned to disassemble each of them one by one. I paused and was like.... "O.... kay." I retreated to my office and let him do his work. As I listened to the whiz, whir and buzz of his drill and saw, and as I listened to him methodically and carefully disassemble the pews he had purchased I became curious. I wanted to know what this brother was up to. I entered the sanctuary and engaged him in conversation where I learned a little bit about him, his family, his missionary endeavors and his intent for the pews.
Kirkland, according to his social media page, is a craftsman at Altered Furniture (Please check the page out). I learned that Kirkland and his wife have served for years as missionaries and as a way to fund some of their missionary endeavors, he repurposes the wood from church pews to create amazing furniture and items that range from custom cutting boards, coasters, desks, benches, etc. and sales them. Kirkland is a beast when it comes to wood work!
Long story shorter; several months into the Corona Virus pandemic and several weeks into all of the social unrest due to the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Kirkland hit my Facebook inbox with an attention grabbing message. Kirkland sent me a message saying, "I need your help. I want to know how I can respond in the right way. I watched a black man being murdered by a white cop on video today. What do I need to do? What do I say? How do I honor you in my response? I'm ashamed to say I don't know what to do but I can't NOT do anything. I cannot be silent." This message blessed my soul.
When Kirkland left our church with the pews he had purchased, we connected via social media and remained in touch on a surface level; however, his Facebook inbox message would catalyze an interaction that would blossom into a new friendship. Due to our busy schedules, Kirkland and I went back and forth in an attempt to lock down a time to converse and dialogue and it finally happened. We spent some intentional and purposeful time on a Zoom video chat on Thursday June 25th, 2020 and had a most wonderful "Conversation in Black and White." This conversation was void of politics (which was so doggone refreshing), pleasant, sincere, refreshing and much needed. Two Men of God, one Black and one White, both covered by the Red blood of Jesus Christ, acknowledging that our world is kinda "jacked up" and in need of change. He asked a few questions that I'd like to share:
He asked, "What can I do?" I responded by sharing that I thought that we all needed to LOVE, LISTEN AND EMPATHIZE. We need to practice loving unconditionally. I am convinced that the authentic display of Christ-like love is not on display in the earth right now. James 3:11 poses an extremely relevant question. "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" If am baffled by the bitterness and venom being spewed by "CHRISTIANS" right now. Many seem to have a greater allegiance to a political party than to Christ! The social media comment sections are repulsive and I'm sure that they grieve God. 1 John 4:20 is also applicable right now. "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" I am a school principal and my school is a Leader In Me School. We talk a lot about Stephen Covey's 7 Habits. Habit #5 encourages us to "SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD." I pray that we will all look in the mirror, evaluate ourselves and simply ask God if he's happy with us and our stance concerning the current times. I pray that we would measure ourselves against His Word and NOT against our perspective of His word.
He asked, "What should I say?" I responded by saying, "Be led." In John 12: 49 - 50 (NLT) Jesus says, "I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it and I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” I wonder how many of us seek the Father's approval before we submit our post on social media or add our two cents to conversations we find ourselves in? I truly believe that there is a detrimental absence of the voice of "Spirit led" believers in the earth right now! There are too many of us who are being influenced more by our emotions, political ideologies and our past traumas than by the Spirit of Christ.
This conversation in Black and White encouraged me tremendously. I often share one of my favorite quotes that says, "In every problem is an opportunity so large that it literally dwarf's the problem." I can't wait until Covid-19 "goes home" so we all can become involved in the healing of our nation. "Remember the Titans" is one of my favorite movies. At the end of the movie Coach Bill Yoast (played by Will Patton) brought his family over to Coach Herman Boone's house (played by Denzel Washington), where they fellowshipped, broke bread and built upon their relationship. I can't wait to get into our new house and invite Kirkland and his entire family to come spend a weekend with us. We don't want them in a hotel but we want to invite them into our home. We also can't wait to take a road trip to Atlanta to spend time with him and his family!!! I am convinced that until we make an intentional effort to integrate our personal and family circles, our churches and our businesses then these toxic systems will never be repaired and our society will never become what God intended it to be.
An often overlooked portion of the "Lord's Prayer" says, "Thy kingdom come, they will be done ON EARTH as it is in Heaven." We can experience a little bit of heaven on earth if we all would personally establish Christ as Lord on the throne of our own personal hearts and stop trying to get him seated on the throne of others' hearts. We can also experience a little bit of heaven on earth if we would allow Him to lead our families. Here's the prayer prescription: Lord, deal with ME, MY FAMILY, MY COMMUNITY, OUR NATION AND THEN OUR WORLD!!! GOD WON'T SAVE THE WORLD UNTIL HE SAVES YOU!!! Healing is soon to come but it must start with us; us having conversations in black and white!