“Something is different about you,” she said. The comment caught me a little off guard, because when you are a pastor and you just finished preaching you never know what is on the other side of that comment. She continued “You were spiritual before you got sick but now you are so much better.” Before you think this is becoming self-serving let me explain. I spent some time in the hospital flat on my back recently but thats a story for another day.
She was right I am different but not because I have seen the light but because of the opposite, I have seen the darkness to be more specific the blackness of my own sin. While in the hospital and while I was recovering I was unable to do most anything for my-self, I needed help with everything, thank God for the people that God put around me, especially my wife and daughter. Wendy took care of me and Amber took care of the church and with the help of my leadership team everything just got done. FYI train your people then let them do it, that is just for free.
Anyway, when you are flat on you back you have the tendency to pray and read thats all I could do and it turns out to be a good thing. While I was down it was very convenient to look up and as I prayed and read God began to deal with me in some areas of my life, things that needed to change. I took a long hard look at my life and came to the painful realization I had somethings that were taking my attention away from God, some areas that I’ve held back and that this illness could be a turning point in my life and ministry. Then I discovered this truth: There are some things about God you can only learn from a crushing blow, there is something about being unable to function that will make you ask questions you most likely haven’t had the time to ask.
I am a sinful guy and God is holy, But until you can see your sin for what it is you can’t really understand the holiness of God. The prophet Isaiah had an experience after a crushing blow where he see’s God and is never the same again.
Isaiah 6:1-8 (NIV)
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.
2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.
3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.
7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
I had seen the Lord, not the same way Isaiah did but as I read and prayed I saw the Lord high and lifted up and Just like Isaiah I thought to my-self I am doomed, Holy is He and sinful am I. Thank God the story doesn’t stop there, Jesus bridges the gap between a Holy God and a sinful man and when you can see that, how can you say anything but….
“Here I am Send ME”
The Apostle Paul wrote this not long before he gives his life for the gospel.
Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Yes, I am different but not because of anything I’ve done, but because of what has been done for me. And that’s the way I see it in my market.