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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Will God Use an Imperfect Witness?

It is difficult for someone considered a minister of the Gospel for over 35 years to admit I still struggle mightily with my thought life and my "thorn in the flesh." Most of the time I am able to keep the beast in his cage, but every now and then he breaks out and wreaks havoc in my life. During one of those recent experiences that leave me feeling dirty, completely unworthy of the kingdom of heaven on earth, and frankly just numb, ministry called. I have two regular stops in downtown Denver: a dinner, evangelism, and discipleship for the homeless on Wednesday nights, and a Bible study I lead at a residence for handicapped guys on Thursdays. I drug myself out of my sin bin and went, remembering ministry wasn’t about me. Verses like “Be ready in season and out of season" (2 Tim 4:2), and, "Always be ready to make a defense for the hope that is within you" (1 Pet. 3:15) rang in my soul. Then joining the fray is that other passage in Romans 7:15-25. 

At the homeless dinners I always try to sit with a new face. That night God led me to Joe [fictitious name] who, like most living on the streets, had witnessed the cruel realities of life there. He had recently intervened when he came upon two men raping a young woman, and couldn't get that vision out of his mind. He said it had been a long time since he had felt connected to God. He didn't think Jesus cared about or heard his prayers any more, and he just wanted to get reconnected. After we talked a bit my friend who runs the dinner came over, we shared the man's story with him, and I led Joe through a prayer of recommitment to Jesus. We also prayed for release of the young woman in to His capable hands, and forgiveness for the two men who raped her. By the time we got done I had made a new friend, and Joe’s countenance had changed. 

The following night I went to lead Bible study with my friends at Cornerstone. After spending time with these guys you start wondering who the “handicapped” really are. They are precious in God’s sight: no egos to screw everything up and no hiding behind the façades that so adorn us “whole” folks. One of the newer residents in the house had come a couple of times, always sitting stone-faced without saying a word. I felt the presence of total darkness in him, and wondered if anything I was saying was getting through. But recently he had begun to open up a bit and start engaging. This night once again he joined the discussion, asking a lot of good questions. Towards the end of the study we were talking about the importance of fellowship, finding a mentor, confessing sin, the power of secrets [it was no mystery this man had a lot of them], and what being a true disciple meant. As I was getting ready to leave he turned to me and asked, "Could we maybe get coffee sometime?" I about fell out of my chair! 

I have often thought the greatest evidence of God's grace is not that He saves us, but rather that He actually puts such flawed creatures in positions to expand His kingdom on earth. I liken it to a father handing the keys to his new Mercedes to his newly-licensed 16 year old son, saying, "I trust you." This week reminded me of that feeling once again. Thank you, Jesus, for again reminding one “who does the very thing he hates” of Your amazing grace. I was lost in iniquity but now am found, was blinded by sin but now once again I see that it’s always about Jesus and my neighbor. It’s all I can ask to be the conduit between His abundance and their need. I must repent, confess, get up, fight on and trust He will carry me through times when I am both saint and sinner, for on both our best and worst days that is who and what any of us are. 

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