A Hard Call that Ends Well by Wil Triggs

Mark Sutkowski is the manager of the LifeWay store in Wheaton, the one that’s closing in just a few days. That means that he will soon be out of work.

If you’ve ever been there, you may have seen him. Mark’s a big friendly guy who is happy to help people.

Because he has also been the point person for the College Church Book Stall, which is an extension of the LifeWay store, Mark called me yesterday. I had emailed him a list of new titles we’d like to add. But I’ve also been hurting for him and the other staff at the store. I thought this would be a hard call.

We talked about displays and fixtures that we are getting from the LifeWay store to help us better display our books. We talked about new titles that are coming to the Book Stall in a week or two. We talked about the shift we will have from working with the LifeWay store in Wheaton to the one at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago. He told me that I’ll really enjoy connecting with the manager at the other store and how the three of us will meet soon to talk about the transition.

I asked him how he was doing and if he had any plans for what’s next.

Mark was so positive. He’s excited that he can help us for a few more weeks. He's happy to bless us with a couple of fixtures for the Bookstall and the Library. He loves LifeWay and is grateful for the ministry they’ve had in that retail space, the opportunity to witness. He’s looking forward to probably moving to the Dallas area to be near children and grandchildren. He’s even looking at ways he might be able to stay in Christian retail or work with LifeWay in some way in Texas.

Here’s the thing about Mark. He was every bit as positive during our phone conversation yesterday as he was the first time we met when there was no inkling of the store shutting its doors. It wasn’t even close to a hard call.

In the days ahead, I look forward to connecting with him and the other manager as we transition working with one store to the other. I’ll keep praying for him and the other staff who are losing their jobs. But for Mark at least, I see a man who is trusting God in the course of big change.

This brings to mind some of my notes from what Josh Stringer preached January 1 in his sermon on Psalm 130:

What brings conviction to your soul? Think back to the troubling headlines of 2016. What about the headlines of your life in the past year? I’m talking about the things that don’t leave the walls of your home or the trappings of your mind. The real distresses of mind.  . . . You can trust that God hears your prayers. We wait because he loves. Hoping and waiting are inextricably linked. . . . waiting, hoping, watching, telling. Bring people to the hope of the Lord. We need each other. We need each others’ stories.

Thinking of the story in his sermon of Josh and Adam running that marathon together, I’m grateful to run this little piece of life with Mark as he runs this challenging part of the course set before him. He’s finishing well.