“What are you–Malchizedek? Where did you come from!?” a tall, suit-wearing grey haired fellow approached me after delivering John chapters 3 and 4 at Western Seminary’s make-do chapel service in the lounge (an outbreak of hephaestus in the basement re-routed us last minute… chuckling I commented to the seminarians “This is what you get when you sign onto having me!”).
Apparently the man asking me this question was the Seminary’s president–his entire vision for life having shifted when he’d seen a one-man performance of The Gospel of Mark back in the 90s. Go figure.
“When are you free to meet?” the man pulled out his phone to make an appointment with where-on-earth-did-you-come-from-me.
So where do I come from? A complicated question seeing as I have lived in multiple states and even countries, and yet find my true Home in none of them. These days living from place to place, home to home, I am starting to better grasp the verse the Lord used to prepare me for all this: “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt 8:20).
Surrounded by a room full of hefty titles and degrees, I found a whole new significance to the Jews’ amazed response to Jesus’ teaching: “How is it that this man has learning when he has never studied?” (John 7:15). The utter awe over God’s spoken word throughout the week was an absolute demonstration of His power–not mine.
So who is this girl, anyway? Well, apart from Christ–I am of no significance. “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth” (1 Cor 1:26). Where does she come from? Not even sure how to answer the question–nothing that gives me some sort of super credentials that’s for sure. So why pick me, God? I take my cue from the continuation of the previous verse: “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1:27-29).
By the grace of God I am what I am: his messenger. Totally and utterly dependent on him. Any ‘power’ that has come through me in the delivering of his word is completely because of him. Yes, he has come in power in many ways already throughout this tour. And, yes, he has used me. But I am just a jar of clay, he is the treasure. I carry his word–his very presence–and I take that as an absolutely holy and incredible responsibility or which I am totally unworthy. And yet, because I am in Christ Jesus, he has marked me as his own and allowed me to play a piece in his work. And what is his work for? To bring the good news to others! If he has given me any gift at all, it is not for me and my glory anyway! It is for his glory and for the good of YOU! For YOUR good! If he has shown me any favor in this at all it is not for me–it is for you and for Him! What an honor!
This is our task, brothers and sisters. To know God and make him known. For now, the internalization and presentation of John’s Gospel is one of the ways God has called me to do this. But I am not the only one with a task. As Paul tells us, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Cor 12:7). Are you in Christ? You have the Spirit. And with that Spirit comes your own unique gifting for others’ good. Our gifts are for others. Are we enjoying the gifts God is choosing to give us through another? Or are we so caught up in envy and self-deprecation that we aren’t unwrapping the beauty given by God through those around us?
Look to Jesus, love others, and when he calls: follow. I can attest, it involves sacrifice. It requires utter dependence on him. But he is the only one worthy of following. None of our worldly whims reap the benefit they falsely promise. His reward is the only one worth having: love.
Spoken Word Performer
*Speaking of dependence, the Lord brought me to my knees once again in a humble recognition of my reliance on him… down to my very life. On the final morning’s drive to Western Seminary, I pressed my foot upon my brakes as I was coming to a stop before a busy highway… only to meet no resistance. Try as I may–nothing. Truck in front of me and interstate ahead, I had no choice but to swerve into the coming cars. By the grace of God he gave me an open window right when I needed it. He spared me my life–the life I have here on earth that is. Knowing I would need to stop again in the future I began praying ‘in Jesus’ name’ to heal my brakes. If he could raise Lazarus–and himself for that matter–from the dead certainly he could resurrect my brakes’ life! By the time I drew near to the coming stoplight–the Lord opened my eyes to finally notice the problem: I’d had my emergency brake pressed in from the night before! Right in time I lifted it out–bringing me to a timely halt. THANK YOU JESUS! THANK YOU JESUS!
Pulling to a slow stop by the seminary, I smelled the burning rubber the escapade had produced. Brakes clearly weakened, I said a little prayer before walking in to our final chapel together: “Oh, Lord, please send someone to help me with my car.”
Walking forward, I stepped into Western with newfound awe to perform John 13-15. Before I began, I gave the unaware audience a tear-filled testimony of the morning’s events. “The Lord saved my life, because I believe he has something here for you.” Wiping my tears, I was now ready to wash and wipe feet. After finishing–sure enough–one man came up and asked: “So what ever happened with those brakes?” Telling him about the emergency brake and burning rubber, he handed me a card. His son-in-law was some sort of owner for a car shop near by. He would look into the problem, and whatever needed to be done–it was on him. The Lord answered my prayer. And he used a random audience member with a never-before-met me relative. Yeah, the Lord really does give gifts to us for others’ good. And you never know when yours might be utilized. Praise God!
**Special shout out to all at Orchard Hill, Western Sem, Hope College, North Pointe High School, and Moran Park Church. It was such an honor to share in the giving and receiving of the Lord’s Word together!!! ❤