The next day, Michael was making calls for shows. We had asked a friend of ours, Michelle, to help with the calls when Michael was working at Mason’s. He’d gotten five ministries interested in hosting a show together as one unit in a small town in Georgia. However, he could not find a church to host the show, not one.
“How is it that five ministries are wanting to have a fundraiser and no church will open its doors?” he asked.
Our friend, Michelle, a pastor’s wife, also tried to call, and had come up with the same results.
“I’m completely surprised,” she said. “I have no idea how you’ve done it all these years. They either aren’t interested or they won’t call me back.”
It was a new level of frustration for Michael. Never had we experienced anything like this.
“Let me get this right,” I said. “You have five ministries wanting a show and no one to host it?”
“That’s right. I’m amazed,” Michael said. “I think this is my sign. This is the end. This is where I completely stop performing altogether.”
“Yeah. It’s ridiculous. I have all these people wanting to do this and not one place to host it.”
Mary Manor was upstairs taking a nap and the kids were having a quiet time. Sitting down in the parlor, I thought about all the lines I’d also thrown out—market, agents, publishers, schools, and festivals. Thinking about it more only convinced me further--I, too, was finished. Thumbing through my years of journaling and realizing how many closed doors we had encountered—a sense of finality flowed through me, as well.
“That’s it. I’m done,”
The baby woke up, and the kids came back downstairs. Michael was on the couch looking through e-mails when I walked in and said,
“Do you mean it? Are you done performing?”
“Yep, I mean it.”
“You know what? Me, too. I’m done. I’m done trying to get my stuff off the ground. It’s like the Bible verse, ‘unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain,’ unless God builds this, our efforts are in vain,” I said.
“If God wanted to make this happen, He could do it. But it’s not happening, so I’m gonna stop trying.”
At that moment, I had an overwhelming desire to really do what we were saying. Make a physical representation of it. I walked into our kitchen and took one of Michael’s brochures. I grabbed one of each of my books and walked back into the living room.
“Alright, you mean it?” I said as I held our products in my hands.
“Yes, I really do.”
“Okay, then let’s bury them!” I exclaimed. “Let’s bury them, because it’s dead as far as I’m concerned.”
Michael looked at me.
“Sure, let’s bury it. It’s dead anyway.”
The kids gathered around us.
“What’re you doing?” Caroline asked.
“Burying our gifts and talents,” I said as if it were completely normal.
Michael stood up. I had the products in one hand and the baby on my hip.
“Let’s go,” said Michael.
We all walked out into the back yard, and Michael picked up a shovel.
“Right about here,” he said as he walked over to the swing set.
“Great,” I said.
He took the shovel and dug a hole. I placed all that was in my hands into the dirt, and Michael covered it back up.
“There,” he said, “It’s buried.”
We walked back into the house.
“Let’s pray,” Michael said as he took my hand.
We all gathered in a circle and held hands as Michael prayed. He asked God to bless us, protect us and to put us in the center of His will.
“And, God, we’d love to use our gifts for you, but if that’s not Your desire, then we’re okay with that. We’re letting go of all of it. Lead us and guide us, Lord.”
As we stood in the circle, and I was holding the baby and Michael’s hand, I listened carefully to what he was saying. I was glad that we were done with all that caused so much heartache and grief for our family. But I was mourning, too--like a funeral. A funeral service for a dream that lived in our hearts for many years. The eternal rest of a calling. The passing of a close friend. And as I began to cry at the loss of what we believed God had called us to I heard the Lord clearly say,
“A baptism, not a death.”