Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hole In Our Gospel!

Over the course of my journey in Christ, I’ve constantly been shaped and reshaped. My thinking has continually been challenged and modified and then challenged again. My interpretation of God’s purpose for my life has vacillated back and forth like a yoyo, and at the worst of times, I’ve wondered if He does indeed have a purpose for my life at all!

At different junctures of my life, when it would appear that I’ve just about run out of answers, I’ve often found a book that profoundly influenced my life and reshaped my thinking and my approach to living out the gospel message. Chuck Colson’s How Now Shall We Live was one such book, as was Mark Batterson’s In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day.... Of course, the problem is, once I start naming books that have impacted me at significant moments in my life, it’s difficult to find the appropriate stopping point, and so I’ll just stop at those two books and apologize to the amazing author’s whose books I’ve not mentioned but who have had a profound impact in my life.

This past weekend I was in San Antonio, TX speaking for a dear friend of mine. As I waited in his office before the start of service, I browsed his bookshelf and came upon a book with an intriguing title (If you ever want to get me to read a book, just tell me it has an off-the-wall title and I’m usually sold). It shouted off the bookshelf amongst all the other books as it declared: The Hole in Our Gospel. “I wonder what that’s about,” I thought to myself, and so I picked it up and haven’t put it down since (No I didn’t steal it, my friend let me borrow it).

It’s written by Richard Stearns (President of World Vision since 1998, and former President of Parker Brother’s Games at the tender age of 33). The thing about this book is that it screams at me in words similar to ones that I’ve spoken for quite a while now, and so it was hugely inspiring to find someone else, someone with a lot more ‘street credibility’ than me, echoing the same sentiments. Here’s an excerpt from the book that spoke to me powerfully (and I hadn’t even gotten past the introduction yet);

"You might imagine the author of a book challenging you to respond to the great needs of the poorest people in our world—an author who, in fact, leads a large, global humanitarian organization that feeds the hungry, assists disaster victims, and cares for widows and orphans across the planet—to be some kind of spiritual hero or saint. You might even be inclined to think of me as a “Mother Teresa” in a business suit. But if you have any of those impressions, you are sorely mistaken. Let me clear that up right at the outset. I, too, have had a lifelong battle trying to “walk the talk.” I am certainly no saint or hero, and I never set out to “save the world”—I didn’t have that kind of courage or imagination. I was a most reluctant recruit to this cause—in many ways a coward. But as you read a little more about my story, my hope is that you’ll learn from my mistakes and laugh a little at my failures. That God still chooses to use flawed human beings like me is both astonishing and encouraging. And if He can use me, He can use you."

If you’re even remotely like me in that you so desperately want to fulfill God’s purpose for your life, these words probably speak to you just as powerfully because they remind you that even after all the boneheaded decisions and poor choices you’ve made along the course of your journey, God can and will still use you. These words remind us that our failures and our mistakes are all part of shaping our story, and it’s been said ad naseum that, “He who tells the best story, wins the world.” Your story is integral in helping others shape their destiny, especially the seemingly unsavory and difficult parts, the failures, and the uncertainties. Why? Because they make you just as human as the next person and reassures them that if you can navigate the pitfalls of life successfully, so can they!


Patrick Voo said...

joseph my friend, thank you for sharing these reflections. i think that we all bear a certain weight of inadequacy - some of it duly carried, but most of it a sinister inhibitor of divinely-given potential. i am so grateful for the fact that our stories have intertwined, and i take great inspiration away from your courage, candour and imagination. lead on, captain my captain!

Joseph said...

Patrick, every single time you put 'pen to paper' you inspire me to want to be a better human being. You humble me by ascribing to me attributes that I hardly see in myself, but I truly thank you for your faith in me and my calling. That God caused our paths to cross has enriched my life no end. I'm still looking forward to my trip to Barrie! :)