The Chicken Story
For those of you who don’t know, my name is Danny Ray and I’m an illusionist/pastor. Yeah, it’s kind of an odd combination. I have been on the road for about 8 years. About two years prior to starting Jeff Harris asked me, "Why I haven’t you combined sleight of hand and sharing God’s word into a ministry."
I gave him my typical excuses.
"I love youth ministry" or "Things are going great right now so why change?"
He laughed at my reasons and gave me his reason, “I think you’re just too chicken to do it.” I called him a few choice names we laughed and then went on to talk about other stuff.
But like a catchy song this conversation played over and over in my head. Over the next few weeks I really thought about that statement. I have always been afraid to tell others I did sleight of hand. I didn’t want them to associate the art of illusions with some other craft (witch)! I loved to perform but it was awkward saying, "Hey I’m a magician let me show you something." Also, many of the Christian magicians in my humble opinion did cheesy magic and I didn’t want to be thought of as just another cheesy Christian illusionist.
As time went on I thought I should at least seek God’s heart on this. Was this something that He wanted me to do or was it just my own idea? After all, in my mind there could be nothing better for me. I loved performing, practicing and doing sleight of hand and I loved sharing God’s word with people. So why not put these two passions together?
After spending much time in prayer, I began to seek counsel from the body of Christ. I went to my pastor, a random pastor in another town, an arbitrary counselor, my old youth pastor and several others. Each of them said something along the lines of, “I don’t know why you wouldn’t stop being the youth pastor and start this.” This was both encouraging and scary. Thoughts raced through my head, “ How will I support my family? What if lose my house, car, etc.” Yet, God nudged me gently and reminded me that He is the Provider, He is the Sustainer, He is my Rock and I need to take refuge in Him.
After two years of wrestling with God in prayer, seeking guidance from the body of Christ and many ambiguous thoughts I had this conversation with Dan Monteverde, my old youth pastor. We hadn’t seen each other in about 6 months. We both had very busy schedules. I wrote down all of my thoughts and questions so that I wouldn’t be wasting any of his time.
We sat across the table from each other at a little sandwich shop in Sacramento. He said, “I know you have a lot on your mind because you have a list of questions a mile long!” He looked over and saw my notebook full of questions and said, “Let’s start at the beginning and just work through until we’re finished.” I started by saying, “Dan here is the thing, I know I must-“ Dan abruptly interrupted me, “Danny, I don’t care what else you have on those pages.” A little surprised by his reaction, I swallowed slowly and knew a lesson was in store. He said, “Whatever follows you have to do it. It is not a matter of if but when. Anytime, you make an "I must" statement, you must do it. Period. It is only a matter of time. So whatever else follows you must do it. But go ahead I’ll hear you out.”
Needless to say, he was right. The answers were right there in front of me but I didn’t realize the very words I used "I must" became the answer to my prayers.