November 9, 2022
As I sit down to compose my thirteenth DeacoNote, it feels like a milestone of sorts. It marks approximately 90 days since the first one. It is not a long time by most measures, but it is enough, that I exhausted all those ideas I thought were important to share at the beginning - those things that reside at the top of your brain, just begging to be passed on. Now I am at that stage of a ministry, where you ask yourself, what can I possibly say, that is as significant as that which I have already shared? As I sit and stare at the blank screen, I often find myself making a prayer out of the 1976 praise chorus by Bob Cull, Open Our Eyes.
Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus. to reach out and touch Him, and say that we love Him. Open our ears Lord, and help us to listen, Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus.
It is a quiet recognition that Jesus is present and at work all around me, but sometimes, I have to work to remove all the distractions, the extraneous noise of life around me, to recognize His whisper. If we open our eyes to see spiritual things around us, we will see them, but too often, it is as if we close our eyes, or fill them with so many other images, that we miss what God might be trying to show us. For the past few weeks, several us have been participating in the How To Be A Purpose Driven Church class and discussion. Last Sunday, the leader suggested that one of the things, that makes churches attractive to new members, is changed lives. This in turn prompted a discussion of how do you "see" a life that has been changed? One of the frequent metaphors for the Spirit used in the Bible and elsewhere is the wind.
Acts 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
It is apropos in that both cannot be seen, but when they act, you can tell where they have been. The Bible puts it this way.
Luke 6:43-44 No good tree bears bad fruit nor does a bad tree bear good fruit Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
I think we sometimes worry that it will be like the old television game show, To Tell The Truth. Do you remember it? It consisted of a panel of celebrity guests and a set of three challenger contestants. The host would read a description of a real person who had done something notable. The panel of celebrities then got to ask questions of the three challenger contestants, hoping to identify which of the three was the real person described by the host.
The real person had to always answer truthfully, but the other two challengers could lie in an attempt to make the panel think they were the real deal. The challenger contestants "won" if the panel was unsuccessful at figuring out which of the three was real and which were impostors. After time was up, the host would turn to the challengers and say, "Will the real ____ please stand up." While the Scriptures do warn us to test the spirits and beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, as it were, many times our confusion is more a matter of perspective. We have somehow lost our sense of what a miracle is.
The story is told of a large jet airliner, an Airbus 380, on its way across the Atlantic ocean. It is well into its long journey, flying at 30,000 feet above the earth at a speed of nearly 500 miles an hour. Suddenly, a supersonic jet fighter plane appears on the horizon. As it approaches the airliner, it slows down to match the speed of the larger airplane and is soon flying alongside. The pilot of the jet fighter greets the passenger plane by radio, and then says, "Airbus, boring flight isn't it? Now watch this." The fighter jet then does its best Top Gun imitation - it rolls over on its back, accelerates, breaks the sound barrier, climbs rapidly to a dizzying height, and then swoops down almost to sea level in a breathtaking, nausea-inducing dive. He then loops back up next to the Airbus and asks, "What did you think of that?" The Airbus passenger plane pilot answers, "Very impressive, but watch this." The fighter jet pilot watches the Airbus, but nothing seems to happen. It continues to fly straight at the same speed at the same altitude. After about 15 minutes the Airbus pilot radios over, "Well, how was that?" The jet fighter pilot was confused, and asks, "What did you do?" The Airbus pilot laughs and says, "I got up, stretched my legs, walked to the back of the aircraft to use the washroom, then got a cup of coffee and a chocolate fudge pastry, and greeted passengers as I slowly made my way back to the bridge."
One of the people in our Sunday discussion regarding changed lives, said that she did not have a dramatic conversion experience. She had come to know Christ as a child and has no real recollection of a life without God in it. As miracles go, this one seems a little boring. There is not a lot of adrenaline-pumping drama. On the other hand, I had a friend years ago that had two children. The older child was the poster child for the fulfillment of every parent's dream for their child. The younger child was determined to be the exact opposite, finding more and more dramatic ways of defying his parents and any other authority figure. In his exasperation, my friend used to say, "I know what it says in Proverbs"
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
My friend would complain to God, saying, "why do I have to wait until he is old?"
Worse yet, Dale Edwards informed us, that recent studies now show that, for the first time in modern American history, there is nearly a whole generation that has no church background.
From God's perspective then, a faith that somehow sprouted in childhood, put down roots deep enough to weather the storms of life, and then made it to maturity to bear fruit, season after season, is pretty exciting after all. Would the real miracle please stand up? Your Brother in Christ, Warren Warren J. Ayer, Jr. Chairperson, Board of Deacons United Church of Colchester