I failed ninth grade Earth Science, and I still don’t know what the classification of rocks are. I believed God created the earth in six twenty-four hours days because that’s what the Bible says. I should have remembered what my confirmation teacher taught me a year before. Science asks how and religion asks why.
Maybe that would have saved my grade.I’m a black and white guy. I take God and his word seriously.
Before you call me a religious nut, I assure you that I’m prepared to defend my faith give solid answers for it. I’m the guy who now asks why couldn’t the Lord use evolution to create. Or like my wife says, “I believe in the Big Bang. God said bang and it happened!” Scandalous in some evangelical circles.
But that’s neither here nor there. There’s more to taking God at his word. When Jesus says to come to him and he will give you rest (Matthew 11:28), he’s not joking — he wants us to come to him. Or in an Anglican Lenten prayer we recite: “We come to your table not presuming but assured. Not trusting in ourselves but in your abundant grace.”
Those words mean something. Personally, I don’t take them lightly. I come to the Lord with everything I have, good or bad. If God is who he says he is, I can come to him with all that I have, in whatever mood I’m in. I trust his grace. His word tells me to do that.
Flash forward to this past Lenten season. If it were about getting all the steps right, I failed miserably. I was out of town for Ash Wednesday. I was going to give up fast food for lent. That was out of the window the first week. Is the food at Disneyland considered fast food?
But it’s not about getting steps right. It’s about following Jesus and waiting on him to direct your steps. I can honestly say that this season has been perhaps one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. And it came down to taking God at his word.
He said to come, so I came.
I could not wait for Good Friday services at my church. We have a tradition to literally nail our sins to the cross. A few years ago, I nailed a loved one’s name to the cross, and my pastor and wife knew what I had written. Whenever I brought up the issue afterwards, they would remind me that I nailed that situation to the cross and, to use more of Jesus’ words, “it is finished.”
More words to take seriously.
I knew all day what I was going to write on the piece of paper. I just had to wait for my chance. And when the call came and when the coast was clear, I sped to the cross. I didn’t care who was there or how I was going to use the hammer, I just had to get to that cross. Two priests put the foot of the cross in my lap, and my wife helped me nail my sin to the cross.
(Let me tell you, there is nothing like a hammer in a guy with cerebral palsy hands. But that’s another story.)
A friend came up to me after the service and told me how much courage I show when I worship. Most people, he said, sneak up to the cross hoping no one will notice them. But I come up boldly letting the cross sit on my legs while I pound a piece of paper to wood. “That takes a lot of faith,” my friend told me, “and you have more faith than anyone I know.”
What do you say to that?
I just take God at his word.
God said come, so I came.
Do you know what the mystery of God is to me? It’s how does he takes my disability and use it to shape my life and ministry, but at the same time use it to encourage others. Sometimes I wonder what my true purpose is. Is it writing and to encourage churches to open their doors to people who have disabilities? Or am I just here to encourage people in their faith like I did for my friend on Good Friday?
No doubt it’s both, and that’s the problem.
How do I take that knowledge and recognize that while I might not be directly working with a church or actively publishing, my testimony is still being noticed? Is it possible to live a life knowing you’re being watched?
I remember my friend Ray telling me one time that I have a ministry of presence. “You didn’t ask for it, and you didn’t have a say in it,” he wrote. “But it’s who you are, and it’s amazing! Add to that your heart for Jesus, your wisdom, your sense of humor your brokenness, and your authenticity. I want to be like you when I grow up!”
Maybe that’s the key. Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:14-16)
More words to take to heart. Whether it’s believing God created the world in seven days, accepting His invitation to pound a nail into a piece of wood, or following the red words in the Bible, the command is the same.
Jesus says to come.