Many of my friends today know me from work and not from my younger years as a Youth Pastor, evangelist want-to-be, ORU student. Back in those days, my faith was everything. I wrapped my whole identity around it and knew nothing else.
Yes, I remember the days when we worried about ‘backward masking’ in the rock albums or the demon behind every tree. Though it’s true evil is alive and well in the world, to focus on it and keep it on your mind certainly doesn’t do anyone much good.
Over the years, time has mellowed me out. Life has a way of melding us into balance. I have no doubt that God speaks to us today in many ways. I have no doubt that He wants us to have a close relationship with Him and to share His love with others. But, at times, I remember being so ‘heavenly minded’ that I really wasn’t much good here on Earth.
Knowing the Bible and living the Bible are two different things. I’ve known people who lived a life very close to what the Bible asks us to live (loving their neighbor, giving all they have, not consumed with material things, humble, etc.) yet, if I were to ask them what the Book of Romans was about, they wouldn’t have been able to give an educated answer.
During the 80s, I spent six years at a college I loved and cherished, ORU (Oral Roberts University). I wasn’t there because of the personality who was known world-wide for his evangelistic television ministry, but because I felt called to be there. Every step of the way, God provided for me financially and it was a great ride.
By the end of my time at ORU, however, I felt like I had begun to question my faith. All the theology, education, and schooling left me doubting everything I believed. I was so heavenly minded that I was of no earthly good and I knew it. I needed to experience life and that was what I did.
Over the next seven years, life hit me in the face like a brick falling from the top of a ten-story building. I realized that I’d put so much time into education and not relationship, that I didn’t have the strength to deal with the world the way I had imagined. I made mistakes and have learned from them over the years.
Through those nearly ten years of challenging life after graduating, I learned that some of the most loving people I’ve known who supported me through the most difficult time of my life weren’t people from the church.
No, those people only judged me (wrongly) and walked away. It was people who would later become some of the best friends I’ve ever had and know, to this day, that if I ever needed anything, would be there for me and me for them (Bob, Mick, & Syl).
You see, faith without works is dead. No matter how many degrees, Bibles we read, scriptures we can quote, or worship songs we can sing, if we don’t have love on the level of Earth, then it’s all a bunch of noise.
I don’t ever want to be that person again. So heavenly minded that I can’t see the needs of others right in front of me. God’s grace isn’t earned by what we know, it’s a gift and a gift that He asks us to share with the least of those around us. That is where I want to be found the day I die. Giving to those around me as He would and did.
Today, here’s to living in the here-and-now with our faith. Every day is an opportunity to give and to live that life He showed us we can live. Here’s to no more clouds to blind us from the needs around us. In that, we’ll find true joy and true faith.
Wishing you all a blessed week…!