So All May Hear

image“Are you excited?”

That is the question everyone keeps asking me.

“Not really.  I just want it over with.” I truthfully reply.

No, I’m not getting married.  That took place almost sixteen years ago and no we’re not having another kid.  Been there, done that…four times.  We’re all good on that front.  So what is the subject behind this burning curiosity as to the state of my excitement? Sunday May 25th I will run my first marathon, and “no” I’m honestly not excited about it.

I’m tired.  I feel like crap.  I’ve lost most of the past month to injury and illness. I’ve logged hundreds of miles running over the past four months in training for this.  Every Saturday has been devoted to my weekly “long run.”    I want my Saturdays back.  I want to revel in the act of doing of absolutely nothing! I just want it done.

You may be asking, “If that’s how you feel why bother to run?”

The answer is simple, “So all may hear.”

I’ve been a preacher for over 15 years.  Over those years I’ve been blessed to be able to preach the gospel to thousands of people throughout the world.  One thing I’ve learned; I can’t reach them all.  I can’t do it alone.

There is a kid named Alex.  He’s 19 and preparing to give up a year of his life to go around the world and preach to Muslims.  He’s laying down his life so others can hear.

There is another kid named Isaiah; also 19.  Rather than seek greener pastures of bigger and better he is answering the call of God by serving in his home church. He’s laying down his life so that others may hear.

I call them kids because I’m old enough to be their dad.  Truth is they are men; godly men and I love them both.  They decided to run this marathon as a platform to preach the gospel and as a tool to raise money for Alex’s trip.  I decided to run with them because their heart for Christ and passion for the lost is infectious.  They inspire me and we can accomplish more together than we can alone.

Both of these men carry a burden.  It’s the burden of lost souls.  It’s not convenient.  It’s not comfortable.  Their heart groans for the lost and they are doing what they can to make sure none are lost due to the lack of hearing.  Whether it is half way around the world or in our own back yard, people need to hear.  They need to be introduced to Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul recognized this need and declared,

“How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written; How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things.” Romans 10:14-15

This marathon isn’t about me.  I’m doing it for them.  I’m doing it for the people who will hear the gospel through them.  Am I excited about running 26.2 miles?  No.  But, I am excited that people will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so I run…so all may hear.

May Grace Ever Be The Tide

imageI turned forty recently.  I don’t feel any different and apart from the increase of a few white hairs making their way into my stubble I’m told I don’t look the part either.  Yet it seems the responsibility of the masses to remind me that my life is now half over.  Thus was the position I found myself in as I sat across from a friend over coffee on this most recent birthday morning.

“What do you want to do that you haven’t done with the first half of your life?” he asked.

I was at a loss.  In my youth I was all about what I could do for God.  It was a drive born of zeal and facilitated in judgment.  I had accomplished many things.  Yet for all I had accomplished I had left a trail of wounded and broken souls in my wake.  Some I had  broken.  Others I had found in such a state and simply passed them by leaving them to sink.  Worse still, others I had drowned with the waves and weight of my self-righteous judgments.  Regardless, over the past three years I had become haunted by the shipwrecks.

As I reflected upon the inquiry I vocalized a truth that I had long been harboring.  I wasn’t really interested in “doing” anything.  I wanted to “be” something.

“I want to be a man of grace” I replied.

Two days later I was walking the streets of Little Italy in San Diego.  As I traversed the crowd the Holy Spirit began testifying of the truth that every person was a vessel meant to carry the Spirit of God.  Sadly most of these vessels were adrift, lost at sea.  Some were sinking beneath the waves.  Yet for all, this truth remained; only the grace of God can save.

As this somber reality invaded my conscience I passed by a lonely store front.  In another life it had been a showroom for seafaring vessels.  Atop its faded brick exterior was affixed a testament of hope.

“A rising tide lifts all boats”

If a rising tide lifts all boats, may grace ever be the tide.