Saturday, August 24, 2013

Keep Digging

Chinese dangling from the fourth floor window!
Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus, and after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, you sins are forgiven." ~ Read Mark 2:1-12

At one of the churches I pastored we began an outreach to men and named it, Call of the Wild. It was a rather novel approach at the time, so we wrestled with ideas of how to promote it. Zack, our college minister, who had also been a trainer for the Army Rangers, came into one of our meetings with an impish look in his eye, and said, "Bill, I just reconned the upper level of the sanctuary, and I have an idea for a Sunday promotional for Call of the Wild." Some background--Zack had been teaching me to rappel, and we had been on a few high-altitude adventures together. He continued, "There is a spot, about forty feet above the choir loft, where we can tie off to the roof trusses, remove a ceiling tile, and rappel into the sanctuary, right between the choir and pulpit!"

Well, on a Sunday morning just before the choir sang, we pulled the panel, dropped our ropes, came flying down out of the ceiling in a fast descent, and set our brakes about ten feet off the floor.  We announced that we were having a day especially designed for men at the Buck's farm for skeet and trap shooting, archery, bass fishing, paintball wars, a rock climbing wall, rappelling from an eighty foot tower, SEC football on a big screen, and lots of red meat!

As Zack and I dangled there in mid-air, we could see the many different expressions on the faces of our congregation. Some thought it was the coolest thing they had ever seen. Others--not so much. One of the single ladies, said that as she sat in the choir loft waiting for the choir to sing, she prayed that God would bring a man into her life. She thought she was witnessing a genuine miracle when two dropped out of the heavens right in front of her. She recovered and prayed more specifically, "God, it would need to be a single man!"

Many of the hundreds of men that joined the event Call of the Wild would never darken the doors of a church. Also, we learned that under their starched, white collars--that work attire demanded, was a redneck. Through that ministry we baptized thirty two men the first year--in the church.

Back to Mark's story...

Talk about determination! Think about the compassion, persistence, and creativity of those four men who tunneled down through the tiles and trusses of that rooftop, and then lowered their invalid friend down through a cloud of dust and debris until he hovered just above the crowd. Their faith in Jesus was so rock-solid. They believed that if they could get him to Jesus he would do what was best! And that's the most important thing--getting people to Jesus. To do so, we may need to think outside the church building setting!


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