Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sometimes You Need a Sledge Hammer

My senior year of high school I was invited by some other teenagers in my church to attend a weekly Bible study in another northern Virginia town about 15 minutes (in those days) away.  At that time in my life I was more than excited about my relationship with Christ, and the opportunity to learn more was welcome.  It didn’t hurt either that I discovered there were some pretty girls there as well.  Hey, I was 17.

A 30-something couple in our church had opened up their home for the study.  He was a contractor.  I don’t remember where she worked, but they just loved being catalysts for teens opening God’s Word and having their lives changed. 

Each week we’d meet in their living room for a couple of hours, Bibles and heart open.  I’d bring my guitar and we’d sing some of those early Jesus people songs.  The combination of love from the hosts and learning truth from the Scriptures caused the numbers to grow.  The living room was packed. 

Then this couple made a decision that has stuck with me for over 40 years.  Not wanting to stifle the growth of the study by a lack of room they decided to tear out a wall between their living and dining rooms.  It wasn’t long thereafter that sledge hammers were punching holes in the walls, wiring was re-routed, two-by-fours relocated and voila, two rooms became one.  Now the numbers of kids could continue to grow.  More would be invited. More would understand God’s grace. 

Tearing out a wall in your house for kids who aren’t even your own is a pretty radical step.  But it was a step they felt compelled by their love for Christ and us that they knew was the right, even though some might feel extreme thing to do.  But, genuine Christianity has been marked by radical moves, tearing down walls for centuries.  A crisis arises, and rather than say what can’t be done someone steps out of the box and does what others never dream of doing.

In once scene from Jesus’ life something similar was done.  In Mark 2 the story is reported how Jesus was teaching in a house in the Galilean city of Capernaum.  The house was so crowded there was only room outside to hear through the doors and windows. 

In the same town was a paralytic with four friends.  They had heard that the Nazarene had miracle working ability and thought if they could just get their friend to Jesus perhaps He would mercifully heal him.  But there was no room in the house.   But these guys weren’t about to let some brick and mortar stop them. 

Up the back stairs they went, carrying their friend to the roof on a stretcher.  Then they began to strip away the ceiling tiles.  When they had uncovered a large enough opening they lowered their friend by ropes to where Jesus was teaching.  Seeing their faith – faith enough to do whatever it took – Jesus told the paralyzed man to get up, pick up the stretcher and go home healed.  And he did. 

But what if the four friends had seen the crowd and not tried the radical?  The roof could be repaired, but their friend might not get another chance to meet Jesus.

Are you locked into dreaming little?  Sometimes the answer is on the other side of the wall or roof.  You may just have to take some risks and punch a hole to get through.

By the way, the wife in the couple who opened their home so many years ago has recently learned that she has advanced cancer.  The doctors have given her weeks to live.  Should she meet her Savior sooner than later, I wonder if someone up there will introduce her to the four in Capernaum who loved their friend enough to tear a whole in the roof.  If so, I’m sure some high fives will be exchanged.

* My friend slipped into eternity a few days ago, two weeks after I originally wrote this for The Outer Banks Sentinel.