It was probably 10 years ago that I was in Kansas City the last weekend in October. I remember the date so well because I went there directly from CCF’s Fall Retreat at the North GA Christian Camp, where we had about 50 students in attendance. They were everywhere – on the stage, on the floor, in the kitchen – for the weekend. I slept little, left after lunch, and finally made it onto the plane. As I sat there I thought, “O Lord, why do I have to go to Kansas City this weekend, I’d rather be at the Retreat.” I was pouting, actually! I didn’t want to be bothered with anyone so I used my Bible as a desperate defense. I pulled it up around my face. When you’re on a plane and you have your Bible around your face, everybody will leave you alone. It’s a frightening spectre. Even the flight attendent won’t ask you if you want peanuts I said to the Lord, “Lord, please, since I can’t get out of this trip I just want to be alone for 2 or 3 hours before I get there.”
It worked. NOBODY spoke to me. So I arrived feeling alone, abused, and forlorn. No one was at the airport to meet me. So I sat there seething that I was being treated like this, after all THEY asked me to come. When the Pastor arrived I was cold and aloof. He took me to the Hotel where I was to stay. Again I was alone. So now the scene was set. I had all kinds of attitudes in me, I was of several minds, if you will. The attitude I didn’t have was the attitude of a servant. The mind I didn’t have was the mind of Christ.
Sunday morning came. The Pastor picked me up and we went to the church building, along with 2500 others. I spoke to the 100+ teenagers during Sunday School and then preached during the Morning Worship. I still was on auto-pilot at the end of the sermon when the Minister of Involvement got up and said, “We have a couple who have just arrived in town. They are deaf. They have a 5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. Their house burned down in St. Louis and they are looking for work. If you have clothes for their children or would like to donate money to help them get started over we’ll be at the main entrance to receive them from you.”
That afternoon I ate lunch with that couple. As we talked via a deaf interpreter I BECAME AWARE of their pain. How petty it made me feel! I repented of my selfish arrogance and thanked God for putting me in Kansas City at that particular time. I shared with them my story of our theft when we moved to Athens in 1982 and told them I really did know what it was like to have to literally start over. I said, “I don’t know what you must be feeling, and I don’t know why this happened to you. I suspect you’ll have to learn to live with an unanswered “WHY?” Just as I have learned to LIVE WITH THE MYSTERY of the why of our theft, but I know that the only thing that sustained my family and I was clinging to the One who understands it perfectly.” There at the KC Masterpiece Restaurant I took my Bible and for the first time on that trip used it as God intended, not as a sheild, not as a textbook, but as a means to show these suffering people, the Suffering Servant, Jesus.
But it didn’t end there. The church responded to this family, who had yet to accept Christ, with an unbelievable outpouring of clothes, money and even a job.
That night as I began my presentation it was with a different attitude, a different mind. The mind of Christ was mine. He spoke through me. God hadn’t changed, but I had. Gone was the self-pity. Gone was the celebrity syndrome. Present was the mind of Christ.
At the conclusion of my seminar, this lovely couple accepted Jesus as Lord and were baptized along with a family who decided that night to leave the path of Witchcraft to follow Jesus. I got to be a part of that, I’m convinced, because of a small, significant change in my attitude! From ME to HIM!
I wish I could say that I never went back to the ME attitude but of course I did. But I like to think that as I have grown in Jesus He has helped me to make the switch from ME to HIM more quickly. How about you?