The last time I got asked to speak it turned out that the only reason I was asked was because I had given the recipients enough money to buy food for the congregation. When I asked them if they would have come if there was no food the answer was a simple “no”.
Apart from that I can’t remember anyone ever asking me to speak from any kind of platform.
So this is kind of significant for me. What do I speak about?
I could speak about eschatology. I have a wonderful systematic theology on the end times that I can quote Scripture and history about for hours. Millions of people used to believe this version of the end times theology unswervingly for centuries. But I am sure most people now wouldn’t agree with it. I am not even sure I agree with it myself. So I won’t speak about eschatology.
I could speak about dealing with important but debatable matters and how best to do that. It would certainly help. But no, it is not important enough for my first speech.
I could also speak about the relationships between free will, the devil’s will and the Father’s will in terms of three heavens. That is a clever exposition of Scripture. Perhaps too clever.
So what shall I speak about? There is only one thing I can speak about: The Name of Jesus.
Jesus met me on the back of a bus on the way from Mullingar to Galway on May 7th, 1980 and irreversibly changed the direction of my life forever. I stopped using foul language immediately, lost any desire to over drink and fell in love with the Scripture. I simply cannot stop reading it, studying it, getting lost in it. The words are living and active, jumping out of the pages at me. I find myself sitting down with a bible in my hands rubbing the sides of it as if I was fondly caressing something alive. My hunger for Jesus’ spiritual flesh and blood seems insatiable as if only His Holy Spirit can satisfy the cavernous appetite of this earthen vessel’s soul capacity.
What can I say about Him? His patience with me over 40 years as He pours in revelation, joy and peace and I ignore Him or run after some James Bond movie or something much worse. How is it that I can seek comfort in something other than Him? And yet this I have done time without number.
And yet He stays kind in His patience with me. There is never a sense of frustration with Him.
He never strives with me. He continually honours my choices and makes me great by being so gentle with me. My greatness is my free will which He continually wants to make more and more free because He wants people to be with Him because they love Him.
Unlike me, He doesn’t boast about anything. I wish He would sometimes but He seems content to let His creation speak for itself.
He is not arrogant, though if anyone had a right to be condescending it would be Him.
He is never rude. Sweetness hangs like honey on every word He speaks.
He doesn’t look out for Himself. No self-protection prevented Him from experiencing the Cross or rejection or any of the myriad other sufferings of the Son of God.
He is not easily provoked. I think in 40 years He might have been angry with me once. He knows our frame.
If I ever hear something or someone reminding me of sins I have committed in the past, I immediately know that is not the voice of my beloved. He seems to have forgotten them all even if I haven’t.
He doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness though. He never condones my sin.
He rejoices over me with singing when I am aligned with His mind on things.
Over 40 years He has carried me through thick and thin.
40 years of believing in me even when I haven’t believed in Him.
40 years of always hoping, joyfully expecting, that I will do what’s best for me – His will.
40 years of enduring the dark inner workings of my filthy soul as He reaches down inside and removes the sh..
He has never failed and He never will.