Below are my remarks as prepared for the Easter Sunday “Eye Opener” at College Church in Wheaton, Illinois.
INTRO: The Apostle Paul says that we carry the gospel in jars of clay “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Over the last two years I have been learning a little bit about human weakness, including my own jar of clay, and about God’s power—the same power that raised Jesus from the dead.
MY MOTHER: First, my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and her health was failing fast. The day before Christine and I were to fly down to the hospital, I broke a bone in my right hand. Awash in stress and grief, I would randomly break down in tears. We went anyway, of course, and Mom continued to slip away. With her brain swelling dangerously, the surgeons tried to relieve the pressure. To their astonishment, they found not a cancerous tumor but a treatable abscess. Today, after months of rehab, my mother is close to her old self and freely admits that the prayers of many Christians—including yours—had a lot to do with it.
MEDIATED MIRACLES: God’s power isn’t confined to unexpected medical diagnoses, of course. It often comes mediated through the everyday compassion of his people. Last year I was suddenly laid off and was in a daze about how God would provide for my family. But my wife, who had been out of the paid workforce for a dozen years, quickly found a very good position. College Church also sustained us in practical ways, and my new freelance publishing career has, by God’s grace, done better than I expected.
SHOULDER: Then this past December an MRI gave me the unwelcome news that the rotator cuff for my right shoulder, on my good side, was torn and needed surgery. Now I depend greatly on my right arm to get around, so the prospect of losing full use of it for who knows how long was scary. But amid my fears and frustrations, College Church members again responded with prayers, meals, rides, housecleaning, shopping, unexpected gifts, and more—all to the glory of our risen Savior.
GRIPING: These days it’s fashionable to gripe about the shortcomings of one’s church. To my embarrassment, I’ll admit that I’ve done it a few times myself. But I have also seen this body of believers repeatedly spring into action when we have needed it the most.
THREE STEPS: So when you suddenly find yourself face to face with your own weakness, with your own jar of clay, and desperately need God’s resurrection power, do this: ask his people for prayer, invest in a few boxes of thank-you notes, and wait. There’s no cure for human frailty, save the resurrection, but there’s no limit to God’s power, either.