Kevin Larter – Junior High Pastor, Gilbert Campus
“I don’t think it’s him.”
“No, that’s definitely him.”
“No way. It doesn’t look like him at all.”
This is an under-our-breaths conversation that Karl Romeus—our Mesa campus High School Pastor—and I are having on Sunday night in the San Diego Airport. Karl has seen someone he thinks he recognizes. I don’t see what he sees.
“Kevin, that’s definitely Jeff Hornacek.”
“I really don’t think so.”
Jeff Hornacek is a former NBA player and the current Head Coach of the Phoenix Suns. And he is definitely not about to board the same Southwest Airlines flight from San Diego to Phoenix that we are.
So as Karl and I quietly argue, Abel—the Associate Pastor on our Queen Creek campus—decides to check this out for himself. He just walks right up to this man, introduces himself, and asks if he is in fact Jeff Hornacek. I’m instantly embarrassed. I’d never have the guts to do that. But at the same time I’m happy because my doubts are about to be validated.
“It just doesn’t look like him.”
“I don’t think he’s tall enough.”
“Why would an NBA head coach be flying Southwest?”
“And don’t the Suns play in the US Airways Center?”
Then I hear these words. “Coach, nice to meet you!” I look over and Karl is shaking hands with a man who, now that he has turned to face my direction, is very obviously Jeff Hornacek. I feel like an idiot. I couldn’t spot the head coach of the Phoenix Suns from 12 feet away.
Karl, then Keaton—the Family Pastor on our Glendale campus—and Wes—the Associate Pastor on our Ahwatukee campus—all shake hands with Coach Hornacek and begin a brief conversation with him. They ask him if he would take a picture with them and he obliges. Very nice guy. Almost to punish myself for not recognizing him, I decide that I won’t ask Coach Hornacek if I can be in the picture. Instead, I took one for the team and became the cameraman.
As I think about my gaffe, a thought comes to mind—if I’m this oblivious to famous sports stars in my midst, do I even recognize God when He’s at work around me? In the back of my mind I know God is always at work in this world and in my life, but how often do I actually see it and recognize it?
Sometimes I feel like Jacob did in Genesis 28:16 when he came to an awareness of God’s presence around him: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Brushes with celebrities happen from time to time and it’s cool when we’re aware enough of our surroundings to identify them. But God is at work around us all the time. If I truly open my eyes and expect to recognize Him at work around me, I wonder what I’ll get to see today…
“My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.” – Jesus (John 5:17)