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He was Scared, But He was Ready

March 27, 2014

I rested my hands on the podium and let my gaze carry from one side of the chapel room to the other.  I had finished my Biblical challenge to the teens and hardly anyone stirred through the whole message – an unusual situation for any speaker.  The high school students were jammed in, shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow.  Every metal chair was taken and some of the teens were sitting1bbb on the floor in the aisles.  I sensed a desire for decision-making at this chapel service; every eye was attentive and each heart seemed to be intent.  It’s that mysterious yet exciting moment that many a Christian speaker experiences, when the Father reaches down and interacts visibly.  No, it wasn’t an overly emotional moment; I didn’t see tears or grimacing, but I sensed, well … should I say I felt an intensity?  That might be a good way to describe it.  It was one of those times that you would acknowledge the old cliché, that, yes, it seemed palpable.  It’s as if I could feel the conviction and the fervent spirit in the air.

“Please, I don’t want any invitation music,” I held up my hand to the musicians.  “I’d like not a bit of emotional pull to influence any decisions tonight.  I’d ask that it be quiet for the moment.”  I stepped forward and spread my hands out before the students.

“Okay, you’ve heard God’s call in the book of Romans.  That twelfth chapter is a plea to be a living sacrifice, serving God with no reservations.  No reservations, men and ladies.  It’s your reasonable service as a Christian.  So now what’s it going to be?  Are you ready to put it all before Jesus Christ?”

God was moving, and whenever that happens, I’m happy – but I’m also hauntingly subdued in a sense.  I’ll freely admit that when the Lord’s conviction moves in a meeting after I’ve spoken – well, it gets very intimidating to me.  When the Father brings the Spirit to change lives, I feel as if I’m standing with my feet overlapping the edge of the Los Angeles freeway.  Big things could happen.  Changes can be made.  Unpredictable decisions might be undertaken.  And if I’m not careful, I could get in the way.  I’ve had this feeling for years, both in teaching in the classroom and in giving God’s message from the pulpit.

I study, I pray, and I deliver His Word – that much I can get my mind around. However, when the Spirit moves, I get almost confused at the power that issues forth.  I’m not sure what to do, so great is the moment.

And this seemed like it was going to be one of those moments.  The student body had been indifferent to the Word through the semester.  Oh, they’d been obedient enough, but there was an aloofness that we Christian teachers see all too often.  Christianity becomes a leisure suit of sorts, comfortable but out of date to the wearer.  It wasn’t that there was rampant sin in the group, nor was there an iciness to the things of Heaven – no, not that.   It was … well, let’s say there was fog where there should have been forts.  Nobody was building or venturing forth in their Christian walk.  The students had been coasting in their walk with Christ.

But that changed within the very next minute.

It started with Bart, a top-level math student with a quick wit and a sometimes acid tongue.  He stepped out into aisle and came forward, throwing himself on the floor and opening up in a deep and sincere prayer to God.  He was pitching it all in for Christ.

Tall and lanky Stephan was next.  He was a basketball player with amazing skills and an equally amazing ego.  He was shaking his head as he came forward.  Stephan was humbling himself before God.  He fell to his knees and started weeping.

Brooke came next.  She was the campus wag, complete with an acerbic tongue and a vengeful spirit.  Her home life was a mess, but she was going to let Christ take her above it.

Then Lisa, Brooke’s sneaky minion, went over to a counselor and poured out a confession and begged for prayer.

Walter quietly came forward and buried his face in his hands.

Todd took two steps and knelt with his head touching the floor.

More and more came.  The boastful.  The cowardly.  The worldly-minded.  Dozens of them came.

I was becoming overwhelmed…

… and then he came forward, sniffing and rubbing a fist in his eye.

He pulled one foot behind him in a soft shuffle as he came forward.

His name was Kris.  He was seventeen, and extremely small.  He bore a peach-fuzz moustache, a heavy lisp and kyphosis.

In other words, Kris was a hunchback.

From his waist to his neck, his back appeared to fold at a sickening near-ninety degree turn.  The first time I saw the extreme curvature of his spine, I almost gasped.  His back nearly reached the top of his head.  My heart went out to this teen who had to deal with the daily infliction of skeletal pain.  Even lifting his arms seemed to be an extraordinary effort, and the simple task of turning to talk to someone meant he had to move his entire torso rather than just his neck.  Kris bore his handicap, though, with a stoic and even pleasant nature.  Still, I noticed his quiet sadness whenever the students would burst into a game of volleyball or rugby.  His fellow students were very close to him, but Kris was on the sidelines for any boisterous activity, and I could see in his eyes that it hurt him.  I was impressed at how he tackled each trial – and they came to him daily.  Eating, sitting, and of course sleeping were near torture for him, as he had told me, but he was happy in the Lord and after all, what more could a person want?

Kids were praying, hugging, holding hands, and sharing.  Kris was shuffling silently towards the front.  I walked past the many students to meet him halfway up the aisle.

He lowered his head.  “What is it, Kris?” I asked quietly.

“I… I’m scared,” he said haltingly.

“Scared of what, son?”

He looked at me.  “I want to give it all to Christ,” he slurred with a lisp.  “All of me.  But I just don’t know how He’ll use me.  Maybe I can’t fit the bill.”

“If God calls you,” I said. “You’ll be more than qualified.”

He burst out crying and wrapped his arms around me.  “Then I’ll do it,” he sobbed. “Please pray with me.”

I folded my arms around his back, feeling that large spinal curvature that bore him so much pain.  The tears flowed freely down my face.

Dear, dear God.  Here is a boy whose spine is twisted and deformed, exhausted almost every hour, yet who wants to give his remaining physical energies over to You. 

Here is a boy who can hardly speak and yet he is only hesitant as to which road You’ll take him. He’s giving everything he has.

He doesn’t care about his pain. He doesn’t care about his spine.  He only cares about making You happy.

Oh, Lord, teach me from the example of Kris.   

“I want to give it all to Christ.”

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