Excerpt from CHAPTER 9 AN INVITATION TO OPENNESS page 222

Published December 10, 2017

It was early December and the skid-row missions teemed with
winter transients. I wasn’t scheduled to speak at services, but
became a last minute fill-in. The youth-group members and my
kitchen staff listened from the rear of the chapel. I felt inspired, as I
winged it without notes or preparation. I wished to say something
meaningful.“The pains of our haunted lives are unrecognized blessings
to us. We curse them, because we don’t understand that they are
awakening us to our errors. The Bible calls them, sins. We are slaves
to these sins,” I said in a tense whisper. “We are prisoners of our own
toxic natures, under compulsions to live contrary to the laws of
God—the law of love!”

I clasped my hands in the air and paused until I was sure I had
everyone’s attention. “What are the laws of God?” I laid the Bible on
the podium and walked to the edge of the stage. “Jesus of Nazareth
answered that question when he said, ‘You should love the Lord your
God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your
strength.’ And Jesus went on to say, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I dropped my hands by my side, walked to the podium, and
leaned forward. “Who was this man named Jesus? Why do his
words—from almost two-thousand years ago—still echo throughout
all of human history? Jesus and his Word are the truth,” I said softly
for dramatic effect. “They were spoken by a man who was not a slave
of human nature. His nature came directly from God, his Father, mirroring
the nature of the creation of the first human being. That first
man—we call Adam—didn’t know how to love his creator, as he was
loved. Because he allowed himself to be corrupted by an outside
influence, Adam disobeyed God and broke the direct connection of
life they once shared. In time, Adam eventually died, as a consequence
of their broken relationship.”

I opened the Bible. As I glanced around the room, I noted that
Sarah and Miriam were on one side of the room; Michael and
Jonathan stood in the rear beside Joshua and Daniel. “So Jesus was
the second Adam, but he lived his life in total love and obedience to
God, his Father. His life was lived without sin and was sacrificed for
our lives. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal
life!’” While I spoke the passage, I watched many members of
the audience mouthing the words.

“That Bible verse, John 3:16, reveals to any searching soul how
to reconnect with our Creator,” I said forcefully. Jesus is the link to
reconnection with the Creator. The pains in your heart and life are
signs that you should question yourself. Ask who you are, and why
you resist your conscience. Why do you refuse to admit your life is
out of control?” I asked, raising my voice. “We’ll change everything
about ourselves, except the realization we’re trapped by our pride and
unable to stop feeding our self-defeating nature! There is a light that
shines in the darkness inside each of us,” I went on. “That same light
of conscience is the ‘still, small voice’ that guides us to the meaning
of life.”