by Randy Chivers
I must confess, that the older I get the more I appreciate God’s word. I love how the Word comes alive in my everyday life. It makes my journey with God more exciting, and makes him feel more tangible to me. Like the time my wife was out of work. She had just gotten a provisional teaching license. It was approaching the end of summer, and no one was hiring. We even had a local mayor make a phone call to his city to put in a good word for her, and nothing. We didn’t know what was going to happen. We thought we were going to lose our house. And, fear gave us many “encouraging” thoughts as we waited to hear from any school that may have need for a teacher. In the middle of all that, God took us to a verse in the book of Revelations. In chapter 3 verse 8 we read, “See, I have opened a door that no one can shut”. We found encouragement in that verse, because we thought, if God has called you to teach, he will make it happen. He will open a door.
With a renewed courage, my wife went out to every elementary school in the district to meet principles face to face, and give them her portfolio. During her “meet and greet” day, she received a phone call from the head of human resources, and was told that she couldn’t go to the schools personally. “Your application is on file, but we aren’t hiring provisional teachers this year”. This was not the most “encouraging thing” to hear. Especially, after God had just given us a great verse to hold on to. She came home, and we said “well, let’s just see what happens.”
A couple days later she received a phone call from the same human resource administrator telling her that one of the principles liked her, and wanted an interview. I sent her off to her interview with a kiss, a hug, and a faith filled prayer. She called me later that day, and said “I got a contract!” We laughed. We cried. We gave God thanks. God and his word became very tangible to us that day for sure.
Now, stories like that will make people smile. They may even feel inspired or emotionally moved. A good story can get non believers to “imagine” God like they never had before. But, I believe the single most important way to make God tangible to others is to let them see our relationship with him as genuine. We can’t expect to win one person to Jesus, if people perceive us as phony. The last thing we want to project is ‘Hey, great story, but why did you talk to your son like that’? Or ‘wow, great story, but why didn’t you tip that waitress’? Our testimony can be ruined by just a few acts of insensitivity.
Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew. In chapter 23 verses 27-28 Jesus says, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside, you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
When my youngest daughter was 8 years old, I had the privilege of sharing this verse with her. We had eaten breakfast, and were about to leave the house. I peaked in her room to make sure she had made her bed, and at first glance, she did. But, just as I was about to turn around and leave, my eye caught something. About half way down the bed, the sheet was sticking out from under her comforter. The Holy Spirit reminded me of the above verse, and asked me to have a learning moment with her. We looked up the verse together, and read it. I explained how God wanted us to be beautiful on the inside not just on the outside. I told her I didn’t want her bed to be a Pharisee; looking good on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones on the inside. I watched her eyes light up as the understanding of the verse came alive to her. She said, “So, when I got mad at my mom yesterday, I had dead bones inside of me didn’t I?” I said, “Well, maybe just one leg bone.” It was such a great moment for me as a dad.
I think God loves having those moments with us. He loves to see our eyes light up when he reveals something to us. With my daughter being so honest about her experience, it caused me to do the same. I started to think about when I had been a Pharisee. I started to remember situations at work, spats with my wife, impatience with my girls, and that “friendly” 5 second honk to the person changing lanes too close to me on my way to work. In all of those examples, I know that I was not making God very tangible to anyone. All I was doing was collecting dead bones.
I want my walk with God to inspire people, and bring them a little closer to a loving and living God. When you look inside me, I just want there to be a light with no bones to be found.