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Preacher Mike makes Relevant

July 27, 2006
I get this e-mail… 850 words of Relevant and it seems yesterdays was about our friend Mike.

Like anyone who grew up in church, I’ve heard hundreds of times that God is our Father. That He loves us deeply, hurts when we hurt, cares about our welfare and happiness and will never forget about us. I’ve always thought that if God were a Father like my dad, He must be a pretty good one.

Despite holding a generally stable and favorable view of God, I catch new glimpses of His character from time to time. Often these brief flashes give me greater insight into His healing power or His unfettered delight in us, but I get caught the most off-guard when I see the raw tenderness of His love.


GOD:
A Shusher – I am a shusher. I shush teenagers in my classroom, I shush talkers during movies.

This Is Our Story – Laughter, prayer, tears, forgiveness and worship are all layers in the great story that building tells.

LIFE:
The Art of Deconstruction – Stretching doesn’t always feel good, but it prepares you for the work ahead.

When the Sun Goes Down – I emerge from this journey with scars and scrapes and many lessons learned.

PROGRESSIVE CULTURE:
Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche – Far from under the Illinois shadow, this is an assembly of B sides that stands on its own.


Review: A Scanner Darkly
– The visual strength of Scanner exhausts itself by the end of the film, proving unable to bear the brunt of a sub-par storyline.

My minister, Mike, was talking recently about the last section of Isaiah—chapters 56-66, where God promises to create new heavens and a new earth and wipe away Israel’s former pain and disgrace. Mike has endured some pain in his life, including the death of his mentally handicapped daughter and the unexpected death of his nephew from a heart malfunction. A year and a half ago, he almost lost his younger son in another tragedy—a van rollover on I-20 near Putnam, Texas, that involved seven kids from our youth group and an adult sponsor, on their way back from a conference. Three of the boys, including Mike’s son Chris, were rushed back to a children’s hospital in Fort Worth. Nobody was sure how badly they were hurt, or even (for a while) if they were going to make it.

Mike talked about being in the hospital waiting room after the wreck, and a doctor friend of his (“Dr. Jim”), who had traveled from Abilene to be with the boys and their families, coming in to tell him he could see Chris. Dr. Jim warned Mike, “He’s in there. But it doesn’t look like him.” Telling the story to us at church that night, Mike admitted, “It didn’t look like him. I couldn’t have picked him out of a lineup. But I got down next to the bed and whispered in his ear, ‘Like a rabbit loves to run.’ And I could see it in his eyes … it was like he started to come back, out of a coma. Because every night all his life I’d put him to bed with the poem, ‘I love that boy like a rabbit loves to run. I love that boy like a rabbit loves to run. Love to see him in the mornin’, love to say, ‘Good mornin’, son.'”

Hearing that, I was struck by two things: the depth of Mike’s sorrow and care for his son, and the uniqueness of the words he whispered to Chris. Many fathers would have whispered to their sons, “I love you; you’re going to be OK”—and that’s really the message Mike’s words carried—but the words Chris heard were meant just for him, based on the years of love that lay between him and his dad.

As Mike continued talking about God’s intimate love for us, I realized that God speaks to each one of us, too. He has words for everyone, written down in His Word and painted in broad, brilliant strokes all over His creation. But when He wants to speak to me, He picks out certain words—a particular song lyric, a call from a close friend, a passage in a book that rings deep and true in my soul—and whispers them into my ear. The words turn a key or pry open a door in my heart and bring me back, reminding me that His love is still there, waiting for me to turn and embrace it.

Mike’s father heart, twisted with worry, grief and fear, rejoiced at a small spark in his son’s eyes, a look that told him Chris would come back, that he would make it. (And he did make it—18 months later, Chris is spending his summer playing All-Stars baseball, going on trips with his family and doing all the things a healthy middle-school boy does.) While Chris was in the care of doctors and nurses who were able to help him, it took a word from his father—a specific, unique, familiar word that really meant “I love you”—to call him back.

God has long used His Word—the Bible—to call people to Him and back to Him, of course. But I think He knows we need words that speak singularly to each of us, phrases or incidents that wake up our souls. They come from all kinds of places, and they surprise us when they reach our stopped-up ears. But they always wake us up—just enough to remind us that God loves us passionately, constantly, tenderly.

Like a father loves his children. Like a husband loves his wife. Like a shepherd loves the sheep he watches over. And like a rabbit loves to run.

Katie Noah is a writer from Texas who loves good books, travel, knitting, coffee shops and spending time with friends. She is learning to trust God while she searches for her first post-college job.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2006 6:13 am

    Thanks for sharing this T, excellent!

  2. July 27, 2006 7:51 am

    Thanks! Even though I have read Mike’s blog for a couple years, I have fresh tears as the writer spoke of the analogy of Mike’s words to God’s special words for each of us.

  3. July 27, 2006 7:27 pm

    Kleenex, please!

  4. Anonymous permalink
    August 12, 2006 8:38 am

    Your site is on top of my favourites – Great work I like it.
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  5. Anonymous permalink
    August 17, 2006 1:09 pm

    I’m impressed with your site, very nice graphics!
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