By: Rev. Ed Schneider
There I was, sitting in an old friend’s living room having a conversation about a church I used to lead many years ago. This happened at approximately 5:00 pm. (you will discover why this is important shortly) During the conversation the subject of two young men in their mid to late 20’s, who I had invested considerable amount of time with while they were younger boys, were brought into the discussion. Unfortunately the news wasn’t good. In fact, it was shocking. One had been indicted for rape and the other had just been convicted of five (5) gruesome murders during an armed robbery. At first I found myself in disbelief, then shock, then anger, then terrible sadness for not only these two wasted lives but also for the families I know intimately. I began to cry over their situation. I continued to cry for the families affected by their violent actions and total disregard of their victim’s innate human value.
Even though I am fully aware I am not responsible for their violent actions, the truth is, I felt a terrible anguish over the news of their actions. As I was hearing of their deeds I also remembered when they were young boys I saw goodness in them. I saw through their troubles and challenges while trying to help them envision the possibilities in their futures. I began to feel a wave of failure. After multiple decades of caring, guiding, and counseling young people in the ways of God as well as the snares of growing into adulthood, I felt I had somehow let these two young men down. I must have missed something. I must have led them in the wrong direction concerning living within a society that tempts them every day to move away from godly actions and desires.
After I left the house of my friend I went back to my hotel and laid on the bed thinking, “What good am I actually accomplishing?” (approximately 6:15 pm) Then the phone rang, it was another friend asking to meet me at a local eatery. I told her, “Maybe we should do this on another day.” Her response, “Come on reverend, stop moping around and let’s have some fun.” I didn’t want to disappoint her so I said I would meet her in 30 minutes. (that would be 6:45 pm or in other words, about 90 minutes from hearing about the two young men) I arrived at the place and as I stepped out of the car I looked up at the heavens, first noticing how gorgeous the sky was, secondly, I quite literally said out loud, “Help me Lord.”
After about twenty (20) minutes of very pleasant conversation that included a few positive stories about past “church-stuff” memories the phone rang. It was the same old friend I had just left barely 2 hours ago. She told me to hold on. She gave the phone to a member from the same church as the two young men I spoke of earlier. In anticipation of more than a short conversation I excused myself and walked just outside the restaurant to resume the phone call.
As I was looking up at the same sky a few moments earlier, the same sky I had just pointed my request of God toward, the person I began to speak with was the mother of a young women I had mentored and befriended many years before…..during the same period as the two young men. She had heard I was in town for a few days interviewing a couple of church planting candidates and they JUST HAD TO CONTACT ME. It seems this young woman had been so inspired by our time together that much of the early part of her life had been directed by the guidance and “fatherly” friendship I extended to her and to her family. To say the least, the affirmation was right on time. Several times during the 5 minute chat I looked up at God and mouthed the words, “Thank-you Lord!” Isn’t God good!?!
I went back to the table and told those that were gathered….I know a God! For the next several minutes I couldn’t help myself. I just kept saying, “I know a God.” I know a God that no matter the circumstance, no matter the challenge, no matter what life will throw our way I KNOW A GOD who is perfectly able to alter the course of the humanity’s interaction with hurt, harm, doubt, or danger. This “interactive” God can, and often does, turn life’s challenges into remarkable revelations of the proof of God.
Many years ago I met a man who was completely lost. He had no purpose, no drive, no sense of value and then he was introduced to the marvelous name of Jesus. He was told about how God, through Jesus, has changed millions and millions of lives for the better. He was told that through this awakening of purpose, direction and association with Christ his life would change for the better. This same man successfully started his own business that currently employs 12 ex-offenders. He decided to have ex-offenders in his employ so he could provide an environment that would be conducive to help change others perspectives on life itself…. THROUGH the life-giving message of Christ. Oh Yes, I know a God!
A grandmother of child said to me, “I can’t do anything with my granddaughter. She is completely out of control. Drugs, sex, hanging around really bad people. What can I do?” At that very moment we knelt down and prayed for God’s intervention. That very night one of her friends was standing directly next to her when she was injured in a drive-by shooting. The next morning she came into her grandmother’s bedroom and told her she needed to change her life. She recently graduated college. Oh Yes, I know a God!
Then there was a family going through crisis. The father who was the major income supplier for the family had died. The widow and mother of two children hadn’t worked in years. Fear abounded while grief overwhelmed the household. I made a few phone calls to other pastors and social services colleagues of mine who I knew were godly people. I shared with them the family’s plight. After several days of prayer and working together for the cause of Christ, the phone rang. The widow and mother of two was to be employed at exactly…. EXACTLY….the same amount of income the recently deceased husband used to make. Oh Yes, I know a God!
Many years ago as a young pastor….that is code for really inexperienced….I was given the opportunity to move a local congregation who had suffered a great loss of membership because of a scandal and subsequent split beyond their current circumstances. In retrospect, all I actually knew about “healing” a congregation at the time was apparently ALL I NEEDED TO KNOW; God couldn’t and wouldn’t fail when you learn to lean on His understanding NOT YOUR OWN. After a lot of prayer, grace filled conversations, and redirecting their minds back to God….as well as lot of hard work….the congregation grew by over 200 new adult members. Oh Yes, I know a God!
When a young eight (8) year old boy had a terrible fall as he was playing outside of his home down the street from where I was living, his parents called and asked me to come to the hospital to pray with them. As I entered the emergency room where they were gathered I noticed three (3) things. I saw a young boy laying on the table, two very scared parents, and an X-Ray with a discernible skull fracture clearly visible. Without ever “laying hands” on anyone for the purpose of healing before, at the request of the parents I did so. All I actually said amounted to,
- Trust in God’s healing power.
- Trust in a God that is full of grace.
- Trust God will never leave those who truly love Him.
- Please Lord! Care for your child right now!
Three (3) hours later another X-Ray was taken. That was followed by a CAT-SCAN. The fracture was gone! Oh Yes, I know a God!
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I could share with you a hundred other examples of what I have witnessed. Even though us “preachers” love to exaggerate to make a point, in this case, I am not sharing these accounts with you from some theological or ideological perspective. NO! I am speaking truth to you from a deep, sincere and genuine experiential knowledge. When I say, I KNOW A GOD, I’m not telling you what I heard. NO! I’m telling you what I know to be true. I’m not telling you what I have interpreted from a gathering of cloudy…. unsure…. random “feelings”. NO! I’m telling you what I KNOW….truly KNOW….absolutely….without question KNOW as an unequivocal interaction with the one, true and living GOD!
I didn’t even mention the handful of occasions when I found myself at death’s door and yet, I can boldly proclaim I am still alive and kicking! OH YES! I KNOW A GOD!
After being involved with a terrible car accident which temporarily and dramatically took some of my memory and intellectual acuity, I KNOW A GOD! That same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has returned my abilities in profoundly new ways. Yes, I KNOW A GOD!
In the wake of natural disasters, incomprehensible acts of needless violence, and political evil that continually tears at the very fabric our public trust, I have witnessed God’s ability to reach His hand, heart and will into something humanity can’t get a grip on….and change things. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I heard it with my own ears. And in some cases have reached out and physically touched the proof of God. Oh Yes! I KNOW A GOD. I know that He is able. I know that He can move the mountains in our lives. I know He can and does bless those who the rest of the world has given up on. I KNOW A GOD!
When all seems lost, I want you to say with conviction, I KNOW A GOD! When it seems like you’re not able any longer to cope with what life is throwing at you, I want you say with conviction, I KNOW A GOD! When you know for a fact you can’t possibly be able to serve God’s church as well as you should because of your personal secrets, or failures or fears, I am telling you to shout out at those thoughts….I KNOW A GOD! Whatever is holding you back, whatever is keeping you from the promises of God’s abundant grace, whatever you are hiding in the darkness of your life, I AM BEGGING YOU….I AM PLEADING WITH YOU….I IMPLORE YOU….with every ounce of my being….with all the depth of my soul…. just try saying out loud….I know a God.
The God that I and millions of others truly know….will not let you down. In Jesus’ name, I pray that you try this exercise of faith and obedience. Say it….right now…as you are reading this last line….I KNOW A GOD! Now….let’s go about proving how tremendous the God that raised Christ from the dead actually exists.