"Cure yourself of the condition of bothering about how you look to other people. Be concerned only...with the idea God has of you."
A few weeks back my dad had invited me out to a four day conference being held at Southside Victory Church called 'Rivers'. I agreed to go but to tell you the truth, I was pretty nervous about actually attending. See Southside Victory is one of those "Holy Roller" churches and I am a Holy Roller for sure, just in a different way (I am after all in a wheelchair:). But, I did go!
So there I am sitting in the third row from the front (I think my dad had us up front on purpose) and they began to worship with lively music. People were shouting, dancing up and down the isles, jumping and waving their brightly colored banners (it was actually quit elegant and beautiful), and of course "slain in the Spirit" laying and rolling on the floor in the open spaces at the front. One guy runs by me a few times and then grabs my hand and try's to pull me up to the front. I smiled and politely said no thanks.
Then this couple, probably in their mid fifties, takes out these three to four foot long ram horns from under their seats and start blowing them as hard as they can right in front of me! I thought, are those things real (I later on asked them and sure enough, they were)! So here they were blowing these things for all they were worth, cheeks ballooned outwards, their faces getting redder and redder, and this strange kind of "ahhuuuga" noise coming from out of the horns. I got this big smile on my face as I thought, "No wonder these guy's are getting slain in the Spirit. Their passing out from lack of oxygen!"
That's when it happened. A moment and spirit of spontaneous unity that I did not expect. My father reached over, grabbed my hand and raised it in worship with his hands. It was in that moment that I two very real realizations. First, there is great Joy in real worship. No fluffy acts of trying to fulfill the requirements of performing a religious theatrical or professional presentation to the theme music of the day and no fake acts of trying to guard against the feelings of "what will they think of me if I do this?" The pure unadulterated and unrestrained spirit of Joy! And second, my father has faith in a mighty awesome God! But, if I did not go God would not have shown me that!
"After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace be to this house!' And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town."
Jesus told his disciples, "Go your way..." Not Peter's way. Not James or John's way. Go your way! It seems clear that throughout history and time God values human free will more then anything else and Jesus makes no hesitation in imparting that free will to his disciples when he sends them on ahead of himself. He wants their destinations to be set by their own dreams, goals, passions, and inner stirrings. Peter and Andrew were fishermen so maybe they would head for the fish markets and coastal communities. Matthew was a tax collector for the Romans so perhaps he might head for the Roman communities and military postings. In any case they were going where God was showing their dreams and aspirations for the Kingdom of God here on earth.
More importantly Jesus was telling them to go! This was like that moment (for those of you who have seen the movie 'Transformers') when the beat up Camero had sped up to them, its door flung open, and Jesus was turning to them saying "Fifties years from now when you are living in the safety of your comfy, white picketed home; are you going to look back at this moment and ask yourself, 'Why didn't I go?'"
What if Simon turned to Jesus and said, "If they want to go that's o.k. but, I think I will just stay here with you Jesus where I know that it is safe." Jesus would be like, "I am offering you the riches of life in its fullness and wonderment. Why would you just want to stay here and settle for the scraps? Nevertheless, the Kingdom of God has come near."
Don't miss the boat! Don't recognize the call to move in upon your calling, your dreams, your hopes for a better future, a better you and not act upon it! Listen closely to that inner voice and when Jesus says go, then go!
It was the fall of 1993 and I distinctly remember walking down one of the side streets close to my best friend's house when I had one of those moments of being called to go somewhere. It was as though someone was asking me "How would you feel if you were in a wheelchair?" Looking back I can recognize it as God speaking with me. I answered with what seems now like a lack of complete understanding to what I was being asked. Being in a wheelchair would be great. It would make me unique, I would stand out from others, and I would be special. And it did! I just didn't count on or expect all the challenges that would come with it.
There was another time several years ago that I had a different calling to go. It was to the Mustard Seed and the homeless people of Calgary. While I was down there God showed me something I will never forget. It was a cold February evening. A number of the college students and I had been down there since early morning serving, cleaning, and walking/wheeling the streets while visiting the homeless beggars on 8th Avenue. The sun had pretty much set and the only light was coming from the street lamps and the natural aura from the moon.
We had lined up with the rest of the homeless outside of the Seed's main building and were waiting for them to open the doors and allow us to come in for dinner. A couple of the students and I were chatting about the days events while shivering from the cold and jumping up and down with the anticipation to getting in where it would be warmer. Then I noticed a scruffy and some what dirty native man a little ways off looking over at me. When he walked over we chatted for a few minutes and then he asked me if I would mind if he prayed for me! I was a little taken back by the faith of this homeless man but I of course said, "Yes, of course you can!"
I will neither forget that moment nor the face of this broken, native, scruffy, homeless man as he kneeled down and put his hands on my knees while praying for me. God called him to go and he listened and God showed up! I didn't walk and nothing supernatural happened but a miracle did in fact take place that night sitting and shivering in the cold with this homeless man. The miracle of human unity. The miracle of my brotherhood with this man and his faith. The miracle when realized that when God calls, if I go God will show a new me!
If you go God will show... a new world to you.
If you go God will show... great character in you.
If you go God will show... changed lives because of you.
If you go God will show... transformation within you.
If you go God will show... a New You!