When I was planting Reunion Church a few years back, I worked many jobs to support my family and our ministry.  One of those jobs was selling tree trimming services door-to-door.  Its one of those jobs where you spend a lot of time walking, thinking, and praying you can get some sales to make ends meet. On this particular day, God had an big lesson for me.

It was an unusually humid summer day in the Pacific Northwest.  Six hours of walking door-to-door and not one single sale.

‘God. I need to make some money!’

Ready to give my final sales pitch of the day, I walked up to the long driveway hoping there was no dogs and praying that I could pull the day out of the dumpster and set one good lead.  The door was open, so I knocked on the old brown screen door.

The door creaked under the weight of my knock and from somewhere in the dimly lit interior emerged an old man shuffling to the door. In a frail voice he asked, “who are you?

“My name is Joe, how are you today sir?”

Not so good.” he said with a surprising honesty. “My wife of 70 years just died on August 8th.  We celebrated our 70th anniversary a month ago on July 8th.”

The man suddenly seemed older and more tired then when he first appeared.

“I am sorry to hear of your loss.”

The man asked, “What are you selling?

I had a sudden and keen awareness that what I was selling had no meaning compared to the loss and grief this man was experiencing. “Nothing of importance, sir.”  I paused for a moment and added, “May I pray for you instead?”

Yes, please come in.

The old man seemed glad for the company and walked with a bit more energy as he led me into his small but inviting living room.  He sat down in an old leather recliner with a crochet blanked draped over the back. I took a seat just a few feet away on an old wood chair that creaked more than it should have when I sat. We talked for quite some time as my sales partner Tim waited outside—wondering where I had gone.

Gene was a kindly gentleman.  He talked about his wife, his kids and how his life had changed since the death of his beloved wife.  More than once, Gene’s eyes filled with tears as he looked off into the distance at nothing and contemplated moving on without Helen.

“I need to go, but can I pray with you now?” I asked.

Gene gladly accepted.  I walked to his chair and took his cold hand in mine.  I uttered what few words would come to mind… words of healing… words of hope… words of Jesus’ love for Gene and his departed wife Helen.

My conversation with Gene reminded me that there are many things more important than setting one more lead and earning a few more dollars.

What are the most valuable things in your life?

Do your daily choices reflect your values?

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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