When faith becomes fact
The topic my preaching minister chose for Easter Sunday was: “The Resurrection Changes Everything.”
My job was to call my fellow Christians to worship with the reading of Matthew 28:1-9, the story of the women who followed Jesus – following Him to the tomb, only to find it empty.
I had to wonder, while preparing to read: What makes the resurrection real today? At what point does faith become fact?
Maybe faith becomes fact when you act.
Two weeks ago this afternoon, I pulled up at the church’s parking lot to pick up my children after school – only to see my wife putting their backpacks into the trunk of her car … and also to see a big, scruffy-looking red-haired fellow asking her for a ride across town. I pulled closer, rolled down my window and offered to help him instead.
I admit, a part of me thought “What if he’s a murderer?” and then, “Well, better just me than Angi and the kids!”
But that other peculiar part of me thought “What if he’s an angel?”
As we rode together, he told me he felt weird asking for help at a church but he was tyring to get his truck fixed, needed a part from across town, and was out of money and out of options. I told him not to worry about it; he’d come to the right place.
I told him about how, 20-some years ago, a big black man named Bill Johnson ran out of gas and money and options on the highway near the church while on his way home to New York City. I told him how our elders helped Bill get home and even began supporting him as a full-time missionary there, and how that church in Springfield Gardens had touched so many lives since then.
About that time, my son Matthew called me on my cell phone to make sure I was all right. My rider said, in his rather scary-sounding, desperate way, “That’s a good kid. He’s making sure ol’ dad didn’t pick up a killer.”
I laughed and assured Matthew I was fine.
He wasn’t a killer. He wasn’t an angel, either, I’m pretty sure. He was just a guy who needed a ride.
Maybe it was a stupid thing to do, to offer a ride to this stranger. But I couldn’t regret it then, or now. It was a ride that made me a little nervous, to be sure; a little excited. But for the life of me, I can’t tell you that I was afraid.
Please don’t read this as a boast, but rather as a confession: I don’t think I have ever acted on faith like that before.
Shame on me for taking 48 years to discover first-hand that the perfect love of a resurrected Christ casts out all fear.
Because He stands near that tomb, talking to those women, as an absolutely irrefutable guarantee that life is His to give.