At the end of October 2011, I posted the following blog entry about my biggest fear. I am reposting it now, after accepting a position as Interim Pastor at First Baptist Church here in Westbrook. Last week was spent preparing messages and studies. Sunday I preached and got one criticism that made me smile, “It seemed kind of short.” (I spoke for 31 minutes. That’s one minute more than my personal limit!) I loved every moment because it was the Lord’s answer to my prayer in this 2011 post. As I am working on next Sunday’s message, my heart is full of thanksgiving. God is “restoring the years the locusts have eaten.” I’m a happy camper.
Will I ever get the chance again? I hope so – 10/31/11
There’s just one thing that I have wanted to do since I was 17. I mean, just one purpose or one thing I’ve wanted to accomplish and invest in with my life. There are a lot of smaller things and things that are shaped by my One Thing. I do have a goal checklist of sorts just like everyone else does:
- Be a good husband building a great marriage.
- Be an active, involved dad encouraging my kids’ unique interests.
- Be a son and brother who values family.
- Be a loyal friend.
My checklist has never included things like jobs, houses, cars and cruises on it. Those things have never really mattered to me. They aren’t inherently bad things. They’ve just never motivated me.
I remember serving under a senior pastor who once insisted that I attend the church picnic to run sack races and games. When I explained that I would have to miss the picnic because of my son’s first soccer game, he told me missing it was not an option and that he would have to “call the deacons” if I refused. He then reminded me, “you need this job.” Unfortunately for him, it just wasn’t on my checklist. I knew I’d have other jobs but I’d never have another childhood with my son. My son scored a couple goals and one month later I was in a much better job. Check.
But what was my One Thing? I’ve always wanted to help people find Hope and Rescue. Since I was 17 and hungry, I’ve wanted to show others where I found food. I’ve wanted to help people understand the difference between religion and relationship. My goal has been to help others find the purpose I found in Christ.
I’ve spent most of my life helping people discover fulfillment through giving and serving. I’ve seen 18 year old young men weep after serving people who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. I’ve watched a heart melt when a deaf, Mexican child climbed up into a lap offering a tight hug. I’ve seen new understanding born while I labored with a group working on an inner-city building digging bullets out of door frames while children played in the street. I’ve watched young women sit and talk with a mom at a soup kitchen and then break the rules by slipping her their last $20. In all these things, I’ve seen Jesus.
I’m not talking about media Jesus or American Republican Jesus. I’m talking about the Jesus you discover when you read his story in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I’m talking about the Jesus who spoke up for women, welcomed kids and made good wine. It’s the Jesus who hung out with the non-religious types and listened to them. I really love His style.
I love helping people discover that Jesus. It’s my One Thing.
Right now, I can’t teach or speak in public because my lungs don’t have the air. I can’t take others to places they normally wouldn’t go to meet the poor and oppressed because my health won’t let me. The missional community I had hoped to have going by now is on pause.
And my biggest fear? It’s not a liver transplant, though that terrifies me. It’s not even death if I should not find a match. My biggest fear is that I will never again be able to carry out the One Thing that gives me meaning and purpose. What if I never have the opportunity to speak, teach or lead again? That scares me and makes me plead with God.
There are so many people who need Hope and Rescue. There are so many that feel condemned. There are so many people lost in meaningless religion. Will I get ever again have the privilege of introducing people to the Jesus I know?
Please God. Give me that chance again.
2 Corinthians 10:7-8 You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can’t see the forest for the trees. If you’re looking for a clear example of someone on Christ’s side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ. You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I’m not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down (MSG)
Are you waiting for your transplant? I know that it feels like your life will never be the same again. You wonder if you’ll ever work, ever enjoy the things you love or even get back to some sort of normal. I hope you take hope from my story. There IS life after transplant. Don’t give up!