If you have read my early books, you have heard stories about our bus and ministry vehicles. When Old Blue died in Florida, I had a vision of a replacement bus that had a red stripe down the sides. I believed God was going to provide that bus for us. It never happened and put me into a dark place.
A chapter in one of my books: “Anyone who owns a bus deserves it.” More than a few ministries desired a bus for all the right reasons and then had to work to pay for the bus and all their energy was spent on keeping it running.
I am obsessed with buses while at the same time very happy I’m not trying to make payments, buying fuel and spending time along a roadside waiting for a tow truck. I have recurring bus nightmares. A couple of years ago, I awakened to announce that I had “sold the bus.” We, in fact, got rid of Old Blue in 1977.
I love the TV series about high end RVs. I settle in with a bottle of tranquilizers and a square bottle of Kentucky bourbon to make it through the program. A ministry can spend upwards to a million dollars on a bus or RV to take them to a free offering. (I’m lying about the pills and booze, but not about the emotional reaction.)
A young man with a rich, rich Southern Gospel heritage is challenging my faith. His parents and the groups they built are among the most revered in Southern Gospel Music. That group worked in one of our churches a couple of times. They invited us to share some stages with them and from our earliest days were our models of harmony. The man is in his late 40’s or at 50.
He knows buses and knows the music business. He is currently walking out onto the faith frontier. It is familiar territory for him. He tells stories of his ministry family being given buses. He tells stories of giving buses to other groups. He is willing to give his current bus to the right group/ministry. Here is where I can pit out my shirts. Giving away, as in giving away equipment worth tens of thousands or hundreds of thousand dollars. Stated another way—he is sowing seeds in Kingdom ministries.
He and his wife have laid hands on a specific bus and claimed it for their ministry. He’s been doing the right things financially. He needs $10,000 more to drive it home.
The picture of that singer standing with his hand on the bus dredged up some severe memories. My wife won’t even talk to me about it. How many times we claimed a bus, motor home, scooter, and an assortment of vehicles to get our group, equipment and product to our commitments.
My faith is challenged in both positive and negative ways. The singer man says,
“I woke up today excited about what God is going to do today. Just about every day in the past 3 months, he has done something cool. I’ve learned to expect miracles. Having this bus would be one since it’s just out of my reach, and I think that is how God rolls.”
Have you heard about the Easter evening when The Hatmaker’s gave away their prize cowboy boots and walked home from church barefooted? This giving, or planting seeds into the Kingdom, is the way God rolls. “Claiming” things—that very word will curdle some people’s milk.
In her book Interrupted, Jen Hatmaker tells of being prepared to lay their new, expensive boots on the altar. It is the way God “rolls.”
Listen to Mark Batterson tell about one of their Washington, D.C. facilities. An evangelist had laid hands on the building decades before as he claimed it for Kingdom use when it was far from being a church or non-profit. Listen to mega-church pastor Robert Morris tell of emptying his family bank accounts several times to give to those whom God designated. His family gave their home(s) as well as 9 or 15 cars. We are reading Jen Hatmaker’s books because her family placed their new boots on an altar. There is a direct line from those gifted boots to the story. The Hatmaker’s HGTV program airs tonight.
I like the bus story. Big and shiny! A symbol of success for me in a challenging venture. But it raises serious questions that have kept me awake and troubled for three decades. Now, I’m questioning if my desire to join this venture is motivated by God.
I don’t know which excites me more. To watch someone venture out onto the frontier, listen to and watch people join the adventure or to personally participate in the faith adventure.
I’m being urged to lay my hands and “claim” something. I wish it were a bus. That would be fun. I am drawn to this “thing” and don’t know why. I don’t know what I would do with it if I got it. Claiming it seems imperative—for it is a link to the rest of the story. It seems to be the “way God rolls.”
Claiming—to intentionally focus on what it appears God wants you to do without the advantage of absolute clarity. This story makes me nervous and exhilarated at the same time. And you?
D. Dean Benton
Benton Quest House