Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jesus With Skin On

Sometimes words flow like the sweetest honey down the face of a perfectly shaped biscuit. Those moments are fun. Sometimes words clog like too much of something unpleasant lodged in a flushing toilet. Those moments are not fun. And the plunger comes to the rescue but not without splashing water of questionable content. I trust that you have already abandoned any idea that this will be an article of flowery prose. If the word "unpleasant" didn't get you "toilet" surely did.

Words seemed to come difficult this morning. It is Sunday and I am a pastor. That means you know where to find me when 10:15 rolls around. I'm soon to be standing behind the acrylic desk which holds my scattered thoughts and memo's from God. My primary calling in life is to fashion them into some sort of logical message that will transform the profane into the sacred. And the "message" God gave me this morning was odd for the heart of Christmas season. It was born out of John 3: 17-18. It's a scripture about forgiveness and condemnation. It references how God came that we might avoid the one to obtain the other. More than good advice. Greater than wise counsel. Rather, the very Words of God.

It is a bit scary to stand before a crowd and claim to speak for the Holy One. To make a mistake in this quest is to be held accountable in the most serious of fashions. Misrepresent God and He will most certainly come knocking at your door. And so a wise man will not take this task lightly.

And as I said, the words this morning came with difficulty, as though I had to carve each one out of hardwood with only a butter knife. But the message was clear. The baby in the manger grew to be a man. He revealed that He had been sent from Heaven's Throne to redeem lost mankind from a most unsavory fate. No, you don't want to screw up this message. I took great care to keep one ear open toward heaven for immediate instructions mid-message. I'll admit to receiving a few without divulging their content. Suffice it to say that He spoke in my core and I endeavored to relay His Truth to listening ears.

And then it was over. My heart was poured empty. Several had complained that the temperature of the room was far too cool as the 75 minutes of worship and teaching began. By the time we reached minute 75 I was marinating within the brown sweater I had pulled over my head this morning. And i wondered why. Why had no one visibly responded to God's call? Why was the alter void of kneeling humans? Why no tears? I had given all. By the time a Sunday morning teaching time is completed I am often ready for an afternoon on the scrap heap.

And then John approached me. He's one of my favorite guys. A leader in our church, John loves God with a whole heart and exudes the curiosity of a modern day Peter at times. He tracked me down and gave me the best "man hug" I have had in weeks. His voice was exuberant as he said, "If you had spoken those words at a Billy Graham Crusade, the altar would be full of seeking people this morning!" John doesn't know it but he was Jesus to me today. Honestly, I don't need to speak at a Billy Graham Crusade. I don't generally need adoring words of affirmation and praise. But every now and then you really pour out your soul and you wonder ... did anybody hear? Did anybody pay attention? Did it make a difference at all? Did the words I spoke have any more impact than a chirping cricket on a lonely, dark night?

Thank you, John. Today I just needed to know that I had indeed heard God. And I needed to know that He had shared His Truth through me. You were His voice. You were just what I needed ...

...Jesus with skin on.


Kelly said...

That's so awesome, Ron! You rock!!