“Receive”….blog I wrote in 2006
If we’ll notice there are times in life that we’re more receptive than others. This should really be a lesson for us. It seems that all people are more receptive when life is brought to its basic simple reality. We live and we die, and then life after death. When people are brought face to face with mortality it’s amazing how receptive we become. I have very distinct memories when I was 20 years old, watching George Bush Sr. Declare war in the gulf coast to save Kuwait from its impending doom at the hands of Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The very next weekend our church which already had great attendance was at full capacity. In our church we could seat about 700 people including the balcony. We usually ran in attendance around 400 adults. That weekend every seat was full including the balcony, it was amazing. People we hadn’t seen in a while were at church, we had many first time guest and they were there to connect with God. People who were once a month or twice a month people all of a sudden became faithful attendees. It was a moment where we were faced with our mortality. Faced with the fact that our lives could change drastically, faced with the question are we safe? The sad part is that although we did grow overall, after a few weeks, slowly but surely people began to go back to their normal routines, God was no longer as important as He was in those moments that we desperately needed Him. I see this every time I preside over a funeral, every time I counsel someone who is in a moment of reality. I saw this Friday night, as I stood on the front lawn of Mitchell Hall on the University of Central Oklahoma Campus, as we honored the memory of an incredible young woman who was a member of our church, Hannah McCarty. They were unveiling a beautiful piece of art in her memory and to honor the scholarship that has been established in her name. What a great honor it was for me to be able to share in that moment. The head of the arts department Dr. Clinton presided over the ceremony, The president of the College, Dr. Webb was there and addressed the crowd, Jack and Pam sent out a clear message with their speech that Hannah’s life was so meaningful and continues to have meaning because of her relationship with Jesus Christ, as they say and I’m sure you’ve seen on city buses, “when you know Jesus the dance never ends.” Hannah was a prolific dancer, more importantly though she was a prolific Christian. I had the wonderful privilege of being the last speaker and had the opportunity to close in prayer. I hope that I represented Hannah and the McCarty’s and our church well in that moment, but most importantly I hope that I represented Jesus well. I simply told the truth. I told the crowd of it seemed like a couple of hundred people, how Hannah lived. She lived life with Passion and on purpose. I said to them she lived life to the full. “Many of us thinking living life to the full is filling our lives up with busyness and things, but she superseded that by living her life as busy as it was, with purpose. It wasn’t just about doing things but it was doing things on purpose.” I said.
I told them, “she looked her obstacles and problems and sickness in the eye, without complaint and simply said, I’m going to live anyway. The reason she had this Joy, the reason she had this peace, the reason she had this purpose, was her relationship with Jesus.” It was a great moment.
The context of this event was interesting, I’m sure that there were several Christians there, but there were also many very secular people there, but it was amazing how receptive everyone was. I didn’t feel a resistance at all as I spoke very clearly about Jesus Christ, I looked out on the crowd, and saw some smiling faces, some somber faces, and some faces caught in the act of introspection. Thinking over their lives, seemingly asking “am I living, really living?” It was a great moment. I am very proud for Jack and Pam, that Hannah was recognized in this way, but more importantly that they have taken a personal tragedy for them and turned it into a day to day ongoing outreach to people, who are getting saved and their lives changed. Pam told me that Hannah always said, I want to be responsible for at least one person going to heaven, and as Pam says, she has impacted many more than that.
It is very telling on us as humans that we are receptive at certain times more than others. It is very revealing when things are going well how easily we forget, how much we need Jesus and how unreceptive we become to His desires for us, and His purposes for our lives. If we could only find a way to tap into those moments of decision and understand how important it is for us to constantly and consistently be receptive to His spirit and His word.
We have been taught to be so cynical. Question everything, don’t believe anything, or believe everything. I don’t suggest that anyone go around blindly following others with no discernment. I think everything we see and hear and are a part of should be ratified by the word of God in us. Let us today make a commitment to God and to ourselves and to our church that we will be receptive. Receptive to the voice of God to His word and to His purpose for our lives. Why do we need to go about our own way until forced by circumstances to change our perspective, lets just keep a holy perspective and reverence for the things of God and watch Him use us to profoundly change our world. I am so grateful that even in our inconsistency and wavering God’s grace is sufficient, and He is not angry with us but longing for an close relationship with each of us.