Life is an endless sequence of learning experiences. As long as we’re learning we’re growing. I don’t think that ever has to stop, even as we get older. It does stop, however, for a lot of folks who, for one reason or another, just put it to rest and decide they don’t need to learn anymore. I guess that’s someting we’ll all have to face sooner or later.
I didn’t even start to learn about spiritual things until I was about 30 years old. Didn’t grow up going to church. I had heard a few of the Bible stories like David and Goliath. I believed in Jesus but I knew very little about Him. But, when my life made the turn, I pretty much hit the fast track. I had done so much in my life that didn’t work, and all of a sudden I got ahold of the one thing that does work and I pretty much gave my life to ‘it’!
I think it was the sovereignty of God that caused me to end up in the little Baptist Church in Allison, Texas. Looking back, there was a very profound move of God happening there. There were no less than 8 couples/families that are now serving the Lord in full-time ministry. Our pastor, Ronnie Chadwick, was a great mentor for all of us. His guidance and influence helped set the direction for our lives, and even continues to do so today.
After we’d been there a few years we took a trip down to Dallas to a James Robison conference. We were part of a good sized group that went that year. It was a life-changer for most of us. I was green as a gourd, didn’t know much but my heart was in a good place. After one of the morning sessions as we were exiting the Dallas Convention Center a homeless guy had walked in off the street. He was dirty, smelled of alcohol and was probably there to He had everything he owned in a little plastic Wal-Mart bag. What I saw broke my heart; The biggest part of the 8-10,000 people that were at the conference, supposedly to learn how to be a better Christian, made a big, wide swath around the homeless guy. I don’t want to judge but it appeared that they didn’t want to be bothered by him, and definitely didn’t want to come in contact with him.
I just couldn’t pass by without trying to help the man. I found out he’d been in some bad situations in Vietnam and had been on the streets for years. I really felt for this guy. I spent twenty minutes or so telling him about the goodness of Jesus. I felt like it was my responsibility to ‘lead’ him to the Lord. (that was back when I didn’t know better!) But after those 15 minutes he didn’t want anything to do with that but just whatever handout he could get. I gave him some cash and he was gone.
I met back up with our group and I was totally devastated. I was sobbing for the condition of the man I’d just met. I felt like I had let the Lord down (which wasn’t true, but I didn’t know!) because he had rejected anything to do with Jesus. My pastor, Ronnie Chadwick, gathered me up and gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received. “Andy, you just have do what you can and trust the Lord to do what, only He, can do.”
It was a profound experience for me and a lesson learned that has enabled me to help hundreds of others since then. The Bible says, “Some plant, some water….but it’s the Lord that gives the increase.” As I have matured through the years I often think of that incident. In this journey of learning to serve the Lord we must come to the understanding that, “Yes”, we have a certain amount of responsibility…..but if anything significant is going to happen…..it’s gotta be God!
It was right there that I learned what my responsibility actually is,
“Love people, trust God”.