At City Church, we love to remind each other of God's story of creation, fall, redemption, & renewal. We also strive to remind each other that God's story intersects with our own personal journey. Each Tuesday for the next 8 weeks, a City Church attender will be sharing a piece of their story on our blog of a time when this intersection was especially evident for them. Today's story comes from Luke Trader.
20 years ago, if you had told me that I would own a restaurant, I would have laughed and said, “No way!”
It was my junior year of high school when God awakened me to the Gospel in a deeper, more powerful way than I had previously understood. I had participated in several mission trips to Jamaica. I had seen the brokenness of people, places, and things, and was feeling a strong call to “Full-Time Ministry.” I felt God wanted me to give my life to sharing the Good News of Jesus- whether it be as a Missionary, Pastor, or Church Planter. Over the next few years, God would lead me to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical Studies, serve at a church for 3.5 years as the Director of Student Ministries, and then serve for another 2 years as a Pastoral Apprentice.
God would also lead me away from that path, through a twist of events, and into the business world. I would never have imagined falling in love with the restaurant business, which I like to call “the people business.” Each and every day, I’m faced with countless opportunities to serve, love, lead, and care for people. Though I never dreamed I’d be doing what I am doing, God, in His Providence, has me right where He wants me. And He is using me in ‘the everyday stuff of life.’ Whether it be serving customers or team members, every day the Lord grants me ‘glimpses of glory’ as I seek to lead and operate a business with excellence, develop leaders, and serve in “REMARK”able ways.
I remember when Dan Cathy (Chairman and CEO of Chick-fil-A) came to Delaware years ago. We were sitting around a table in the Christiana Mall food court talking. Dan wanted to hear our stories. My turn came, and I started off by saying, “I used to be in ‘Full-Time Ministry’, serving as a youth pastor.” Dan quickly cut me off, saying with a smile, “You’re still in Youth Ministry. Look at the team behind that counter.” Dan would go on to say, “Most pastors, if they’re lucky, have a 2-foot-wide pulpit that they get to preach from for about 30 minutes, one day a week, to maybe a few hundred people.” Pointing to the counter again, Dan said, “We have a 30-foot-wide pulpit that we get to preach from for 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, to thousands of people.”
As my path has gone in directions I did not anticipate, I often wonder if I am where God wants me to be. I have prayed, “God, are you calling me somewhere else?” I want my life to count…to matter. I don’t want to waste it. Sometimes I feel like I could be used more elsewhere—in another country that doesn’t have access to the Gospel or that has great physical needs. I think and pray on it, and though I am open to wherever the Lord would lead, I find Him continually telling me to “stay put.” I recently read a quote from Mother Teresa, which resonated with me:
Stay where you are.
Find your own Calcutta.
Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are—
in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools.
You can find Calcutta all over the world,
if you have the eyes to see.
Everywhere, wherever you go,
you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society—
completely forgotten, completely left alone.
—Mother Teresa (Founder of The Missionaries of Charity)
Just this year, I have had the humbling opportunity to lead, officiate, and preach at three funerals…one of which was for an employee. I preached at two summer youth camps. I spent countless hours with unbelievers in the workplace—I visited some of them in the hospital. I have been a life-coach, a counselor, a friend, and a pastor to my team. I have prayed with and for them.
In a unique, unexpected, and back-door way, I am being and doing what I always felt God calling me to be and do. The story is still unfolding- for me, and for all of us. What an awesome privilege it is to play a small role in the story of God…of Jesus making all things new through redemption and renewal.
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding
—Steven Curtis Chapman
Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, be not afraid, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go!