Life on the road is interesting. I tell people that I have been in more hotel rooms than Gideon's Bible. Actually, a few weeks ago I was in a Super Motel 4 and they only had half of the Gideon's Bible.
One of my fears about traveling is arriving at the wrong destination. One time I was scheduled to speak in Odessa, Texas and thought I was flying into the Midland-Odessa airport. I love to speak in West Texas because the people are lonely. When I arrived at the airport I realized I was in the wrong place. I had messed up big time and flown to the wrong city. After frantically checking with a few people, I realized they had relocated to their new airport since my last visit.
I do worry about flying to the wrong city but my greatest fear happened — being the wrong person. As I look back I should have known something was wrong. A few days before I was to speak, the church requested that I sing a few songs at the banquet. The girls in the office thought it was hilarious for anyone to request my singing. They thought someone would one day pay me not to sing but never pay me to sing. Well, maybe for singing lessons. They told me about the singing request and we all laughed and didn't think anything about it.
When I arrived, the pastor's first question was "Do you want me to call you Mark or Charles?" I thought that was odd but immediately said, "Charles is fine." I then began to wonder why he asked me that question. I was beginning to get a little nervous but saw my bio on the seat beside him. I glanced at it and it talked about Charles Lowery, Ph.D., Psychologist. I relaxed. Not for long. The pastor told me that we had a mutual friend and being curious about how he had booked me, I asked him who it was. He told me it was Larnelle Harris and he knew that we had sung a lot together.
Suddenly it all comes together: the request to sing, does he call me Mark or Charles, and our mutual friend, Larnelle. I realized that this pastor thinks he has booked MARK Lowry to do his banquet. What do I do? Jump out of the car and run? Pray that he will have a wreck before we get to the church? I know that "the truth will set you free" but I don't work for free. I need this honorarium. As a matter of fact, I need Mark Lowry's honorarium. I figure it is about four times what I get. Finally I say, "You think I'm Mark Lowry the singer, don't you?" He says, "YES!" I pick up the bio and say, "This is me. Charles the psychologist, not Mark the singer." He says, "I thought you did both." This guy wants Mark the schizophrenic singing psychologist.
We are now sitting at the hotel staring at each other. I asked him if he has advertised that Mark Lowry is coming. He said, "Yes," and I said, "Is there a cliff close for both of us to jump off?" He isn't laughing.
I suggested that I return home and not do the banquet, to which he responds, "You have to do the banquet. What exactly do you do, anyway?" I asked if he remembered Bob Newhart who played the psychologist on TV, and he said he did. "I'm not him, either, but I am a shrink and I do make people laugh while teaching them at the same time." He had a glazed look on his face as if he had just eaten ten Krispy Kreme donuts.
When I went to my room, I actually read Gideon's Bible. A couple of hours later, a man picked me up for the banquet. He called me Mark. I now had the glazed look on my face and I wished I had ten Krispy Kreme donuts. The pastor's wife greeted me at the door and said how sorry she was about the mix up. Things were going to be OK though. She said the pastor had asked around and, "… some people actually have heard of you, that you are funny, and now the pastor is a little more relaxed." I was thinking that I was glad he was relaxed; I was going to the bathroom every forty-five seconds.
The banquet went well. After it was over, a man came to me with a tear in his eye and told me that he really needed what I had to say. He had lost his job, was desperately down, but now he was ready to give life another shot. He said, "The pastor thought we needed a singer tonight, but God knew I needed a shrink. I didn't need Mark, I needed you."
As I reflect on that weekend — which I can now do without throwing up — I realized how blessed I am. I tell people how good their heavenly Father is.
When I was a young boy I played marbles. I had my roly polys and black beauties. I really enjoyed it because I played for keeps. There is always a bully in the neighborhood, though, who will cheat and steal your marbles. I came to a point where I realized I had lost my marbles. What do you do when you have lost your marbles? If you have a good father, you go to him and he gets them back. There are a lot of people in churches who have lost their marbles. I tell them they have a heavenly Father who can get them back. This Father is so good that if there are 100 people and one is lost, He will look for the one that is lost and bring him back.
Many times the Father sends us for that one to bring back. Pastor, you may be discouraged with the 99 at your church who think you should be like Mark. Maybe God sent you for that one. It is amazing to think that God is so good to send you for the one. His name is Jehovah Jirah, He meets our needs. I also believe He has another name. It is Jehovah Ha Ha because He sure must laugh at the process.