11/20/2015 Mike’s Blog: Two Beautiful Men

 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are.” (1 Cor 1:27-29)

In my 35 years of ministry I have been privileged to meet two truly beautiful Christian men. My encounter with the first one inspired me to write a song. My encounter with the most recent one inspired me to write this blog. I met Charlie [names fictitious] many years ago while I was singing one night at a Christian coffee house. That night the Lord continually directed my gaze to Charlie, a slight and unimpressive man in the audience. Regardless of his non-descript appearance, I had never seen the glow of the Spirit in a man like this man before.  After my first set, I knew I had to sit with him and talk.

With eyes sparkling, Charlie told me he had been the owner of a camera shop in Seattle. Then the Lord had told him to make his own Jesus video, sell all he had, and go. He now went from town to town on a financial shoestring, showing his video and preaching the Gospel. He had nothing, but he had everything. I, the successful real estate broker, with my brand new Audi parked out in the parking lot and my brand new Guild 12 string perched proudly up on stage, sat there in awe of something that made all of it seem somehow irrelevant.

Charlie’s parting words to me as he was leaving and I was about to start my next set were, “Mike, I’m where God wants me to be all the time.” Later, as I took my fancy guitar and put it in my fancy car to go home, I felt ashamed at all I had. I knew I would have traded it all in a moment for what Charlie had. I went home and wrote the first words of the chorus of that song the very next day: “Charlie, you’re still a part of me. A part God won’t let go. Charlie, you’re still the heart of me, a heart I pray God will grow.”

Fast forward 25 years to a recent Celebrate Recovery meeting I attend every Saturday morning, where I met Bobby. After all those years [including considerable financial “pruning”], and what I hoped was considerable growth in my spiritual life, I was confronted by my next Charlie. Bobby was Autistic, and by his own account had the “mind of an 8-12 year old.” A newcomer to our meeting and to the program, he sat there for most of the time quietly listening.

When Bobby finally opened his mouth my world was rocked. Bobby’s speech and demeanor defined the word, “childlike”. The description, “the least of these” didn’t even begin to do justice to the perceptions he projected. But as he spoke the verse that opened this blog [one of my all time favorites] came to a life and a power I had never before imagined.

He stuttered, “Just two days ago I was living in my car, and now I have a bed so I’m very thankful for that. The only blanket I had was an old sheet, and when I got here one of the guys gave me a blanket so I’m very thankful for that. Two days ago the only pillow I had was my Hoodie, and one of the guys here gave me a pillow so I’m very thankful for that. And my meals used to consist of crackers in the morning and a can of Tuna fish at night, so when I came here and got an hot meal I called the director of the house and said, ‘Thank you for my hot meal, and I actually was able to go back for seconds, so I couldn’t believe I could do that! One plate was more than enough.’ With that childlike smile on his face he concluded, “So I’m very thankful for all of you, because two days ago I didn’t have any of this.”

Words cannot do justice to that moment. As with my Charlie moment I once again felt like Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7) in the presence of the woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. Once again I found myself ashamed of all I thought I had become, and all I thought I had. Fighting back the tears I looked around the room at the other guys gathered. Most were in the same completely undone state. I found myself ushered into the very presence of God. I was entertaining angels, and unlike before when I missed them this time I was keenly aware. This was a visitation through which Jesus proclaimed, “This is what matters. This is one of the least of these I commanded you to love. Look on and see what a child of Mine truly looks like.”

If that moment rocked my world, the next week at the same meeting changed my world. I went hoping only that Bobby would be there so I could be in his presence once more, when to my complete astonishment he handed me a folded piece of paper. Struggling to read the backwards letters and misspelled words I made out, “Brother, I need an accountable friend to pray with me. The angel said you will so I can be a good man too.” My heart swelled to bursting as Bobby said something about wanting to be like me. I replied, “Brother, it would be my absolute pleasure and honor to be your friend, and it is I who needs to be more like you.”

Those of you who have had children know what a game changer that first one is. All of a sudden things that seemed to matter so much seem somehow irrelevant. Everything gets put in a new place of priority and perspective, and nothing remains as it was. That is the feeling I experienced anew when I read Bobby’s note. I am now involved in some of the “biggest” ministry circumstances I’ve ever been a part of, and I believe it no coincidence Jesus brought Bobby into my life now to remind me of what truly counts. Bobby will keep me humbled, remind me every time I see him of the beatitudes, and never let me forget “my first love” and Jesus’ command to touch the least of these in real and tangible ways. Whatever “bigness” happens, Bobby will help keep me on track because he just moved to the head of the class.

Sometimes when you find yourself in moments where you watch God work in miraculous ways, words fail as mine have utterly failed here. You realize there is nothing—absolutely nothing—this world has to offer worthy to untie their sandals. Thank you, Jesus, for two beautiful men You sent to remind me there’s always the next level to reach for as we walk with You. No matter how far we think we have come, thank You for serving notice to us just how far we have to go. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me just to be a part of it all—understanding for a brief moment what it really means to understand what love truly looks like. And thank You for whatever lays ahead for Bobby and me, for whatever I do unto him I know I will have done unto You.

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