“It” and “A Little Touch of Hell”
But one April Fools Day does stand out it my memory, that being April Fools Day 1993. That was the day I left Chicago to find God in the south, the day I left the “Windy City” with a sign on the back of my car that said “Biblebelt or Bust”. Most of my friends thought I was nuts, because I had no real plans, no money saved, no awaiting job; no, all I had was a total conviction that God was to be found in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I was going to find Him if it cost me everything I had.
What convinced me that God was in Charlotte? The year before I had visited my Grandmother, and one day, as I strolled along in the very center of the city, a bum approached me and asked for money. But this was no ordinary bum. By Chicago standards he was simply too kind and considerate as he asked for money. A Chicago bum would simply demand what he thought rightfully his for allowing me to walk on his sidewalk. “Obviously”, I thought, “God must be at work here, if even the attitudes of bums are different.” And I so desperately wanted to be different! So, back in Chicago I gave notice to my employer and he said, “Terry, nobody gives 12 months notice, by then you will have changed your mind.” But one year later, I left on that very day, on April Fools Day. It seemed an appropriate day to do something so drastic, in an effort to meet a God that I certainly did not know.
So I moved south, intent on finding God, and find me He did. Shortly after I was saved, and with little ado, my pastor, Steve Stout, asked me to go door to door evangelizing with him. I asked him, “Why me, when you have 500 members to chose from?” He responded, “Because they don’t have “it”.” So evangelizing we went; the three of us, me, Steve and Mike McCallum. Mike was my full-time mentor, a converted drug dealer and addict who was on fire for the Lord.
That first year I often wondered what the pastor meant. What exactly was the “it” that made us any different? I knew my pastor was not referring to some form of second blessing, nor was he referring to any apostolic or revelatory gifts, as he was opposed to such beliefs. But I soon learned from observing the fruit of my two friends, that “It” was a verb.
Mike, my ex-addict mentor was a silent giant for Christ, a humble but overwhelmingly fervent evangelist, who was bestowed the title of “preacher man” by those who jeered him. Mike was relentless in his efforts to learn more about the God he so desired to serve. Yet Mike was harmless in spirit, gentle as a dove, particularly toward the lost, and his family bore witness of his Christian leadership. Yet as Mike grew in his understanding he did not retreat to the comfort of Christian isolation, hiding in the bosom of our church or his loving family, because Mike understood the utter grandness of his calling, Mike understood from whence he had come and where he was going. Mike understood that he and his family were just passing through this world. But most of all Mike understood that the path he was on was narrow, and few are those that find it. This grieved Mike’s soul as he wanted nothing more than he wanted others to come to know the God that chose to save him, a drug dealer, a chief of sinners. Yes, Mike had “It” alright, he had the understanding of the ultimate purpose for human existence, and he had the will and desire to do something about it, and he made it his life’s practice to do so.
So what is “It”? Is it not the active loving of God, seeking His face, and serving Him to the utmost extent of your calling, (whether hundredfold, sixty, or thirty) while teaching others to do the same?
“A Little Touch of Hell”
Some time ago God called me to serve Him in a homeless shelter, ministering to those to whom I relate; the black sheep of the world, the lost and down trodden. I comfort those who are in need of the comfort by which I have been comforted. That is the field God presently has called me to plow. But no longer are the soils as fertile as the young minds I use to reap so many years ago. Perhaps God saves such first works for the young Christians. But today everyone I meet is already a little “c” “christian” and their soil is as hard as twice baked Carolina clay.
Oh, what happened to the good ‘ol days when the women at the well knew the men they where with, were not their husbands and that made them anything but Christians? But today no one seems to take seriously, “Go and sin no more, lest something worse come upon you.” The seeds I plant and water today sprout up pointlessly in their minds only to wither and blow away in the winds of preferential sin and pleasure for a season. Sin just doesn’t seem so bad anymore, as the heathen has all but forgotten fear of the Lord, and for the believer, who ought to care for these souls, working out your salvation seems to mean something less than due Christian diligence. A blind eye has allowed ever increasing numbers to remain comfortably un-converted heathens. Oh, for the day when even the heathen understood the worth of inalienable rights. Sin abounds, yet conviction remains as mute as the church remains silent, too busy buying to pay the cost of following Jesus.
Why does the American heathen not fear the eternal unquenchable fire? Is there no understanding of the continual, utter and total destruction of the wrath of God? No man has ever seen, nor will ever see again the righteous fury unleashed on that day. Yet the American Christian seems apathetic toward the lost, unconcerned of God’s indignation and impending judgment of the heathen. What does it take to get the American Christian to stand and fight? When we will rise and speak louder than those voices opposed to God? Perhaps the Holy Spirit has left this country, but we could, as true Christians, at least let the Scripture be the offence it alone was meant to be! Are we as the remnant not to, with love, plant the discomfort of truth in the ears of the unsaved?
On one particular day at the homeless shelter, I found myself in a field of brown vines, dormant from the cold winter chill. But inside those vines resides a foreign evil called Kudzu, and I intended to kill it with fire while it slept. My fire started with a single burning leaf, but soon a tiny errant breeze whipped my little Kudzu fire into a 50ft roaring monster. I fought the fire for all I was worth, not wanting it to devour my neighbor’s trailer park. But the monster fought back as I watched my leather gloves melt onto my hands and blisters form on my arms and legs. I began to pray to God for relief and understanding of the purpose for this fire, but in the end I simply fell back to safer ground. Exhausted from the smoke and burned from the heat, I sat and wondered what God was doing when it dawned on me!
Could this be just a little taste of Hell, a foreshadowing of the Hell to come?
Hell, the real, live, flesh burning, fire and brimstone, pray for death that never comes, Hell! The Hell no one seems to fear anymore. The Hell that will lavish most of humanity with endless, abundant, and copious amounts of insufferable pain, searing torment and eternal separation from Christ, yes that Hell! Could it be that God was using this fire to wake me up from my silent stupor? Could it be that God was using this little taste of Hell, that lost souls are going to experience, to cause me to open my mouth and preach with all boldness, despite the cost of the consequences that I knew would likely result, lest I forget from what He saved me from, and become lukewarm in my own Christian comfort. So now I perhaps bear the scars of lethargy, or maybe the scars of enlightenment, maybe neither maybe both, who knows the ways of God?
But why does it take a potential act of God to open my altogether too quiet mouth to preach the truth that I have so abundantly and undeservedly been granted knowledge of?
Why do I say and do nothing as divorce runs rampant, evangelistic dating replaces the equal yoke, and pre-matrimonial purity falls prey to the sexual immorality that devours the innocence of our children?
Why do I say and do nothing as heathen membership chokes out the wheat, and the filth of thistles stains our baptismal waters?
Why do I say and do nothing as selfishness and debt eradicates compassion and philanthropy, leaving widows hungry, and blood banks and church coffers empty?
Why am I not using my gifts in whole-hearted service to my Lord?
Why am I not striving for the prize, being good and faithful in my due diligence?
Why did I set aside my “It”?
I guess I am just a sinner, and comfort has become my enemy, the enemy of my grand calling and due service to Jesus! Oh, dear Lord, please forgive me for my failure is great! My inaction and negligence grieves me to my core.
It is my hope that you are doing better is such regard, that you are living out your “It” and remembering that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. So let us repent if need be, and let us concern ourselves no longer with comfort and the things of this world, but rather let our concerns be for the glory of God and those that do not yet hear His voice, lest worse things befall us and one of us be found to have an evil heart of unbelief, failing to enter the rest because of disobedience.
So let us work out our own salvation and stand for truth despite the cost. Let us be as Obadiah and serve God in spite of the King. Let us be as Elijah and stand in defiance of the King. And let us be as Daniel and change the heart of the King. And in the end, may we all be counted as good and faithful by the King. What greater purpose could there be for this vapor we call life, than to fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.
Brother Terry Walker
Providence Baptist Church
Greer, South Carolina