Monday, June 18, 2012

Better A Hero Than A Zero

I have been humbled before. In a good way and in a bad way. Sometimes I come across a person so gifted, so talented, that I am humbled as I gaze upon my own limitations. (They are plentiful. Not whining. Just being realistic.) And occasionally I have been humbled to find out that God has used me when I had no idea that He was even busy in my life.

I have been visiting a man in the hospital frequently of late. He is pretty ill. There is a whole list of things weighing him down, threatening his existence. Cancer is the main one. I hate that beast. My friend is not the type of person that engages often in deep and meaningful conversation. That is not to say he is not deep. It is simply that he chooses not to express that area of his life.

And that is why his words made me feel much like I did as a little kid when I decided to figure out what that thing on the wall was.  You know that thing.  It's two simple slots on a plastic cover.  I'll never forget the moment I decided to stick my fingernail in one of the slots and check it out.  I developed an appreciation for electricity on that day.  My friends words had the same shocking effect on me.

We had been talking about how he is feeling and the challenges he faces. Most of our conversation revolved around lousy hospital food and his inability to digest it anyway. And then I prayed with him, preparing to move along with my day. As I said, “Amen,” he looked up from his bed and said the words that are still rattling around in my brain two weeks later. “You know you changed my life, right?”

What’s this? Huh? I asked what he meant and his eyes filled with tears. I love my friend. I’m his pastor. And I know that he only tears-up when his beloved baseball team loses. But no, we were not talking baseball and yes, those were real tears in his eyes.

“Since you came to our church I’ve been listening. And because of what you have said I have started caring more about people and about God. I realized that I don’t have to be grumpy. You changed my life.”

I just don’t know how to respond to something like that. I know who I am. I’m a nothing that God made a something because of His immense love. I’m a zero that God says is priceless and He proved it by paying the price of His own Son to buy me. But I still feel and act like a zero most of the time. That’s not false humility. That’s simple honesty. And the words of my friend totally took me by surprise and made me realize one huge God-driven truth.

God turns zeros into heroes. But He only does it by His grace and when His power works through us. Left to our own devices. Zero. Surrendered into God’s Hand. Hero. That can be you. It only takes the simple walking out in obedience the truths found in the Bible. It only takes saying “Yes” to the quiet promptings of the Spirit of God whispering in our hearts.

I know the truth. Jesus changed my friends life. I just got to be the tool He did it through. How amazing is that?