When I think of how God worked in my own life to draw me into a relationship with Him, I think of golf balls . . . rocks . . . and car washes. I am sure you think of the same things.
When I was 16 years old and pulling away (physically and emotionally) from all things “church,” the new Youth Pastor at East Cross United Methodist Church began to take a special interest in me. He pursued me on my terms and in the places where I liked to hang out. Thus, our very first spiritual conversations were on the golf course. It was somewhere near the fourth tee at Adams Municipal Golf Course that we began talking about forgiveness, and somewhere near the 18th green where I decided to start going back to youth group to hang out with my new friend, Dwight. Based on my experience, I am sure the golf course is where God got a hold of you as well.
On Easter Sunday, 1990, in the Fellowship Hall of East Cross, Dwight shared the Gospel with us in a unique way. He had each person walk through ten stations where a question was asked concerning each of the ten commandments. If you could answer yes to the question (thus indicating guilt), you were supposed to pick up a rock. By the time I ended my progression through these stations, I had a bag full of rocks, and a sudden realization that I was in need of a savior. As Dwight spoke of the forgiveness found in Christ, I lay my “rocks” at the foot of the cross and began a relationship with the Living God. Based on my experience, I am sure that a bag of rocks is how God showed you your need for a Savior.
Soon after coming to Christ, Dwight asked me if I wanted to lead the planning of a fund raising car wash to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I reluctantly agreed to do so. This was the first time I had ever taken any leadership responsibility as a Christian. Through this process, I began to realize some of my gifts and my desire to serve Christ with my life. This small spark that began at the car wash was fanned into flame over the next couple of years until I felt God’s full call on my life into vocational pastoral ministry. Based on my experience, I am sure that God used a car wash to launch you into a lifetime of serving Him.
Golf balls, rocks, and car washes. These are the things that God used in my life. No one can deny that. It is my experience. However, is it proper for me to imply or expect that because God used these things in my life, He will do the same in yours? As we search for an answer to that question, let’s look at John 9:6-11 where Jesus comes across a man who was blind since birth and decides to show mercy on him. The story reads, “Having said this, He (Jesus) spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. ‘Go,’ He told him, ‘wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, ‘Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?’ Some claimed that he was. Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’ But he himself insisted, ‘I am the man.’ ‘How then were your eyes opened?’ they demanded. He replied, ‘The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed and then I could see.’”
In that story, Jesus used spit to restore the man’s eyesight. Jesus worked in this man’s life using a very common thing coupled with some very common instructions. As the healed man reflected on the experience of what had just happened to him, he could easily recall the simple steps and commands that led to his healing. As we read this story, we might be tempted to think that healing blindness is a product of WWJD (what would Jesus do). If we simply follow the formula that Jesus did, maybe we could get the same result. However, there is a serious problem with thinking that way: Jesus did not heal the same way twice.
When Jesus healed the royal official’s sick son (John 4:43-54), He did not even go see the boy. He simply spoke a word and the boy was healed. When Jesus healed the woman who was hemorrhaging for many years, He allowed her to simply touch the edge of His coat and her bleeding immediately stopped (Luke 8:40-48). Even when Jesus healed other people of their blindness, sometimes He would just touch their eyes with His bare hands (Matthew 9:27-31) or have a conversation with someone that led to their healing (Mark 10:46-51). All these varied stories and encounters should remind all of us that the only consistent thing as it pertains to “healing method” that is demonstrated in each story is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus would work through many simple things to bring about healing. Words, clothing, spit . . . all these things Jesus used to bring about healing, but what He used with one person, He often did not use with the next. The one constant, however, was His presence enacting the miracle upon the person in need.
This is very significant as we consider how God has worked in our lives. All of us who have experienced God’s love and forgiveness have at least three things that He used in our lives to draw us closer to Him. For me it was golf balls, rocks, and car washes. For you, it might be Young Life Camp, scrapbooking, and cokes at Sonic. These are all simple things that God can use in our lives; the saliva and dirt of our contemporary landscape. However, before we begin to think that our salvation came through rocks, cokes, or saliva, we need to remember that whatever the methods, it is Christ who brings us grace. This should free us up from demanding or expecting that everyone will be impacted just as we were (contrary to my silly implications earlier in this story). God is a personal God, who reaches out to us in many ways. Remember that the next time your friend does not want to go to the same camp you went to or someone else thinks your “rocks” illustration is cheesy. The same God who used saliva in one place and the edge of His garment in another, can just as easily personalize the way He reaches you and me.