When I Said No To God
From my book, The Descent to Compassion
Abruptly I noticed a strange fog begin to fill the church. It came from the opening just above the sanctuary near the back of our church. As the fog settled among the people, I thought my prayers had been answered in the form of a divine miracle, but that was not the case. Ron had taken a few minutes to walk to a nearby store and buy some air freshener. When he returned, he made his way up the back stairs and emptied the cans into the opening, allowing the mist to float down into our meeting place. It was the smell of pine fresh, like one of those car fresheners you hang from a rearview mirror. A divine answer to prayer it wasn’t, but the attempt to improve the smell was noted by everyone. I wish I could say the air freshener was successful, but the smell of the man still cut through everything. My only option was to quickly bring the service to an end. I concluded the message with an altar call, and a few people came forward to pray. After praying at the altar, the service was completed, but God was just beginning. The King of the Homeless stood alone, untouched by anyone. No one in the church was getting near him, and no one was speaking with him. I knew he was still there, so I kept my distance hoping that he would just leave. It was then that God spoke to me: “Hug him.” His voice was clean, pure, and holy. God waited on me. My response was fast, without thought. “No!” Again, God spoke: “Hug him.”
God spoke for the last time, more insistent than before: “I said, give him a hug!” Chills ran through my body and my heart felt fear. I was suddenly aware that I was standing on holy ground. Testing ground. Proving ground. And, God waited. I turned toward the unknown stranger, and he seemed to be waiting just for me. Years later, reflecting on this moment in my life, I’m fascinated that in Scripture we see nature always obeying God, we see demons always obeying God, but when God speaks to us, His children, we seem to debate obedience. I approached him slowly, and he stood perfectly still. As I embraced him, his smell was overpowering, and I wanted to run, but when he embraced me, something strange happened. Something heavenly took place. I was changed, I was broken, and I was being set free. My body was warm and I could feel blood rushing to the surface of my skin. I could feel God’s presence and it was holy, loving and perfect. The smell departed in the presence of God. Just like the man in the Bible with leprosy, all this man actually needed was a touch when no one would touch him. I wish I could say that he was the one changed that day by my preaching, but I was the one actually changed by his hug. It was at that moment I discovered that the homeless, the untouchables are, in fact, truly touchable, and they will teach you more about God and yourself than you will ever teach them.
Wright, Steve (2012-03-18). The Descent To Compassion (pp. 21-22). . Kindle Edition.
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