Sunday, August 03, 2014

Miracle In The Carport

A few months ago Tommy was the guy at the Motel Church who was picking a fight with Don, the kind, elderly gentleman who weighs about 80 pounds and is confined to a wheelchair.

During that incident one of our fellow servants pulled Tommy aside and let him know that we don't treat our friends that way.

Weeks later, Tommy stayed after the message and helped fold chairs and put away tables. I walked up to him after we were all done and placed my hand on his shoulder.

"Thanks for your help today, Tommy." His eyes started to fill up with tears.

"Are you going to be ok?" I asked him. He nodded and looked away as the tears started to roll down his face.

The next time I heard about Tommy it was from another resident who told me that Tommy and Don had tangled again at the corner gas station. This time Tommy threatened Don.

"I told Tommy he wasn't welcome to come back to the motel church until he could straighten himself up," my friend told me.

I disagreed with that. "But the help Tommy needs is over here with us," I said. "Tommy needs Jesus. How can he get help if we make him go away?"

Tommy kept coming to the Motel Church every Sunday, however. The confrontations with Don subsided and Tommy kept mostly to himself, but he was there and he joined in whenever we talked about Jesus.

This morning as I got out of my car and started to open my guitar case, Tommy came over to me. "Keith, I wanted to ask you if I could share something with everyone after you're done."

I could see he was serious, and very emotional.

"Ok," I said.

"I also want to sing two songs but I need to say something before I sing," he explained.

"Uh...what songs are you going to sing?" I asked him.

"'Because He Lives' and 'Lord I Lift Your Name On High'", he said.

"Alright, then."

So, I kept my teaching shorter than usual to leave room for Tommy. After I was finished I invited him to stand up and share what the Lord had placed on his heart this week.

I wish you could have seen him. His face was glowing. He had tears streaming down his face. He had to stop more than once because the emotion was so nearly overpowering. But he got through it.

I stood behind him and placed my hand on his shoulder. Partly to let him know I was still there, and partly to assure him that he was doing a great job.

Tommy told everyone what a sinner he was. "I know everyone is a sinner," he said. "But I'm the worst sinner of all of you. I mess up all the time. I'm stupid. I do dumb things. But Jesus died for me. He left Paradise - gold streets and the angels in heaven worshiping him night and day - and he came down into this filth, and he died for all of us."

Then Tommy sang, "Because He Lives". I joined in and a few others who know the words did too.

After that, Tommy told us more about how much Jesus loves us, and how much we all need to make sure that we are right with God because we don't want to hear God say, "I never knew you".

Then we sang, "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" together.

It was glorious. So beautiful. To see Tommy - broken, simple, sincere - of all people, stand up like that in front of everyone and preach a message so heartfelt, so sublime, so tearful, and wonderful, and was like a dream.

What I love about this so much is that it was totally, one hundred percent, God. It was all God.

Tommy told me privately how this last week God had gotten hold of him. "I started thinking about God, and about the scriptures. They all just kept coming to me, over and over, and before I knew it, two hours had passed," he said. "I looked down and realized I hadn't even touched my beer in two hours!"

The verse that came to my mind was, "the kindness of God leads to repentance" (Romans 2:4)

This all goes back to that first confrontation Tommy had with Don a few months ago. At that time we didn't chase Tommy away. We explained that Don was our friend and that we don't treat friends like that. We also affirmed that Tommy is our friend too.

It goes back to that simple "Thank you for your service" that one Sunday when Tommy helped put away the chairs with all of us.

It goes back to the reminder that the help Tommy needs is only found in Jesus.

"I'm such a sinner," Tommy told me this morning. "Why did God choose me to give this message today?"

I took him to 2 Corinthians 4:7 and read this to him: "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

I said, "See Tommy, God loves to do extraordinary things through ordinary people like you and me because that way everyone knows it was God - not us - and He gets the Glory for it."

"But I'm such a sinner," Tommy said.

"So am I," I said.

"I don't understand why he would choose me. He could have chosen anyone else."

"God loves you, Tommy. He loves you. That's why He showed Himself to you and touched your heart this week."

Tommy just smiled and nodded his head. I could the tears forming again in the corners of his eyes.

As I looked around I could see everyone's face was full of joy. We had witnessed a true miracle today. 

God had touched Tommy's heart. Then God touched our hearts through Tommy. 

As I got in my car to drive back home, Tommy said, "Pray for me!"

"I will," I said. "Just keep following Jesus."

"I don't always do that," he admitted.

"You can do it," I said. "Just keep your eyes on Jesus. He's with you."

"Ok," Tommy said.

So, join me this week in lifting up our new brother, Tommy. Pray that God would continue to reveal himself to Tommy.

Pray that Tommy would spend many more hours away from his beer - wrapped in the arms of Jesus and becoming more intoxicated by the Spirit of God's presence.

Pray that others would listen to the Gospel message that Tommy preached today. I'd love to share even more testimonies like this one with you as we continue to serve at the Motel.

Let the Kingdom come!



the alternative1 said...

that is a very beautiful story and you can tell Tommy that someone in Tulsa,ok is at Gods throne praying for him.

John E. Ayala said...

This is beautiful! Let Tommy know we are praying for him and that Jesus will always love him. May Tommy continue to seek Jesus and find his rest in Him!
Keith, you guys are doing great work there. Prayers always, going out for you, your family and your church.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

Someone in Sacramento is praying for you, Tommy.