There were twenty strangers standing around, coffee in hand, scanning the crowd for familiar faces. We were all waiting for the training program to begin.
"They call me 'Buzzard,' the guy next to me blurted out, "not sure how it all got started but over the years I've grown used to it ... my mother even calls me Buzzard now." He looked like a normal guy, but I wasn't sure I wanted to continue a conversation.
As soon as I shared my name, he hit me with ... "So, what do you collect?" I know a lot of conversation starters and ice breaking questions, but this one seemed to be more than a little "off the wall."
"Wall Clocks," I responded.
Then he proceeded to regale me with the glories of his spider collection.
Lyn and I have dedicated one wall in our family room to a rather pitiful collection of 24 wall clocks, but neither of us would be called collectors. My Dad was a collector; when he died his garage was a museum of junk.
Through the years I have gotten to know people with various kinds of collections: Ken collects native American art, Bud — pocketknives, Joyce — antique glass, Blake — writing instruments, Teresa — shoes, Gene — police badges, and Robert built-on a 20x20 room over his garage to display his Bobbie hats.
Ask a person about what they collect and you are asking them to share something revealing and personal. You are stepping into their private world. Not such a strange crowd breaker question after all.
"So, what do you collect?"
Try this answer. "I collect the fingerprints of God. I look for his touches in my life and the lives of others; and when I find them I write about them, and I report them. Not long back ..." (Tell about a time when you saw or felt God in action in your world.)
You can talk about your faith without being religious or offensive.
In April of 2007, USA Today did a short story on Kevin Inciyaki, of Sierra Madre, California. The story focused on Kevin's love for trash. Kevin at the time was 9 years old, and fixated on garbage. He not only likes garbage, but he also likes garbage containers and garbage trucks, garbage books and garbage videos. His room is filled with everything garbage.
Early photos of him in the family scrapbook show an eager youngster inspecting trashcans at Sea World. He even has a photo collection called "Garbage Trucks of the World" taken for him by family friends on trips abroad.
Kevin's mother Marsha said, "It's been garbage since he was 2 years old. You have no idea what it is like having a child who has a passion for trash."
Why not collect something that lasts forever and makes God proud in the process?
Some collections are reflections of our passions, some take us down a dangerous path, some are nothing more than a diversion, or innocent dabbling, and others become obsessions. What are you collecting?
Join with me in the pioneering venture of building a network of believers who have become collectors of holy fingerprints.
Keep your eyes and ears open. As you travel, work, walk your neighborhood, share meals together, and attend social gatherings, look and listen for the fingerprints of God. He's working everywhere, sometimes in ways that may appear to be strange and bizarre, but he is still touching lives and healing hearts. When you hear an account of his touch ... write it down, save it, share it, and celebrate it.