Is it really possible to preach an entire sermon on bananas? Read on .
Peace by Believing
Before I became a Christian in 2016, I looked for fulfillment in all the wrong places. The Peace by Believing podcast, which is recorded in Texas and broadcast via radio and podcast throughout the United States, has helped me redirect my focus where it belongs, on God.
The Peace by Believing website states: “When we place our faith in Him, our hearts enter into a state of calmness, tranquility, ease, and rest.” The website also directs us to Ephesians 2:14: “He Himself is our peace.”
Pastor Jon Redmond, one of the founders of this ministry, bases his sermons off Biblical truths. I like his sense of humor and stories about his own life that relate to Scripture, which makes me see how I can apply the lessons to my life too. The messages travel roughly 1,600 miles to reach my home in Southern California.
All you can eat
Pastor Jon’s stories often make me laugh. One of his points centered on John 6:35:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
Pastor Jon told a hilarious story about how he would always eat at least six, and sometimes more, breadsticks at the Olive Garden restaurant because they were free. I myself remember many of my own family dinners at the Olive Garden as a kid with my parents and younger sister, trying to consume as many breadsticks as possible, simply because they were unlimited and we didn’t have to pay for them! I have to admit that sometimes I would even sneak them out of the restaurant in my purse (sorry, Mom). When Pastor Jon saw some photos of himself where he thought he appeared heavy, he stopped eating the breadsticks and lost 20 pounds! Pastor Jon finished the message by concluding that no matter how many breadsticks we eat, eventually we will be hungry again. Jesus, as the bread of life, is the only one who can satisfy our heart’s true hunger.
I listen to this podcast nearly every day, growing in knowledge and faith with each message. In particular, there is one pivotal episode which changed my life.
I was content with my job as an administrative assistant at Capital Group, a respected mutual fund company. My managers valued me, my coworkers were pleasant, I had flexible work hours, and I was able to write about 10% of the time. I was adept at the daily tasks: Scheduling meetings for my managers, mailing FedEx packages, ordering food, faxing tax statements, and making travel arrangements for my managers. Though I was content and comfortable with the job, God told me I should achieve more. That is why I planned to leave the job and pursue my 20-year-old dream of becoming a full-time writer. But while my husband Elijah and I owned our condo and were committed to the expensive monthly Southern California mortgage, I planned to keep working at Capital Group and use my salary to pay the mortgage.
When Elijah and I listed our condo for sale in March, I thought it would sell within days. But when no offers came and the weeks passed by, I resigned myself to defer my dream of writing until the condo sold and we no longer had to pay the mortgage. I was content with that decision. Though I longed to be writer, and was not necessarily fulfilled as an administrative assistance, I was not unhappy as an administrative assistant. I figured that my dream of writing would be indefinitely on hold.
Until...one afternoon I downloaded Pastor Jon's sermon called “God’s Timing.” Based on the title, I assumed I was in for another message about waiting, patience, and deferring my personal timeline to God’s bigger plan. But that wasn't the case.
Pastor Jon recounted a story of a man who knew without a doubt that God had commanded him to be a pastor. However, this man always had an excuse for not obeying the calling. He allowed his family, job, finances, and other responsibilities to prevent him from obeying. Finally, as an old and feeble man of 95 years, he at last decided to give his life to being a minister. But at that point, elderly and frail, he had little life left to give. The pastor explained that sometimes, God can say “too late.” Pastor Jon elaborated that if in our heart, we feel that God is leading us to make a decision, and we know that the time is right, it is better to take a risk and be in a storm with God, than on the shore doing nothing alone.
“You need to be a writer”
My heart pounded as I heard the message. Did this mean it was time to be a writer? Did I dare to quit my secure day job to achieve my calling?
Please show me a sign, I asked God. Do you want me to pursue my dream of writing now? I waited 20 years. Is that long enough? Should I quit my job before our condo sells? Please send me confirmation.
God gave me my husband Elijah as the head of the family and prayer confident that I can trust. I turned to him for guidance.
We were cuddling on the couch and I was telling him about a new article assignment. I grew more and animated while describing the project.
“You’re shouting,” he told me, smiling.
“I’m not shouting,” I shouted. “I’m just so happy about this article.”
He took my hands in his. “You need to be a writer,” he told me.
“I am going to be a writer,” I replied. “But we have to wait until someone buys the condo.”
“Don’t wait,” he urged me. “You need to be a writer right now.”
“What about the mortgage?” I asked fearfully. “Don’t I need to keep working so we can pay the mortgage?”
“We’ll be fine with just my teaching salary for awhile,” he assured me.
Wanting to believe him, but too afraid, I kept going to work as an administrative assistant as usual.
“I need to be a writer”
A few days later, upstairs in my prayer room, I listed to the podcast episode once more. I came to the point where Pastor Jon tells us about Exodus 14, when Moses is leading the Israelites out of slavery, pursued by the Egyptian army. Moses and the Israelites reach the edge of the Red Sea, and can no longer proceed forward. Moses pauses on the edge of the Red Sea and prays. But the time for waiting is over:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.
-Exodus 14: 15-16
Pastor Jon summarized, “Once you know the time is right, you, like Moses, need to move forward and do whatever it is that God told you to do.”
I ran downstairs to Elijah, nearly tripping on the cat in my haste.
“I need to be a writer,” I told him breathlessly.
“I know!” he told me, happy and exasperated at the same time. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!”
The next day, on April 30, I gave notice at my administrative assistant job. I set my last day as June 13. My spirits were high as I drove home that evening. I get to be a writer! The obligation of the mortgage was still in the back of my mind, but that evening, my heart was light.
Then, on May 19, I heard from our Redfin real estate agent Min, who has been encouraging us from the beginning with her strong faith in God’s plans. “God has sent the perfect the family who loves your home!” she exclaimed. “They made an offer on your house!” Our close date is June 17… three days after my last day at work. We are released from our obligation to pay the monthly mortgage. I trusted my husband’s wisdom and I trusted God when they both told me to take a risk and step out in faith by leaving my day job and pursuing my dream of being a writer. God responded to my trust by lifting away the financial burden of our monthly mortgage payment.
We purchased our used RV on June 1st and plan to head out across America mid-July in search of our new city. Elijah and I trust God to support us on our journey and send freelance writing assignments or other work or whatever we need whenever we need it.
Pastor Jon compared God’s timing to one of my most absolute favorite foods, bananas: If you eat a green one too soon, you get a mouthful of hard chalkiness. Pastor Jon explained that this type of banana represents, “Not yet.” If you wait too long, you have yourself a brown, mushy mess. “Too late,” he surmises. If you wait just long enough, and not too long, and bite into the ideal yellow banana, you are rewarded with the sought-after combination of perfect texture and natural sweetness: “Just right.” That is how I think of my new writing career.
I praise God for Pastor Jon Redmond and the Peace by Believing podcast which has taught me profound and practical applications for the Word of God… and has made me look at bananas in a whole new way!