We were blessed to hear a great sermon on Sunday from Quinton Williams (or Q as he is often called). Q started things out by describing a family outing where the intention was to witness one of our most scenic natural wonders at Multnomah Falls. This journey then detoured to a scene of remarkable feats of human ingenuity interacting with nature in the kite surfers on the Columbia at Hood River. I very much appreciated his opening the sermon this way because it seems sometimes easy to lose that sense of wonder at what God is creating all around us. I use the present tense here because it feels to me as if God’s creation is ongoing. The beauty of a towering waterfall or the majesty of a mountain easily sparks that sense of wonder but I think we may often overlook those wonders that occur each day around us in less spectacular (but just as wondrous) ways.
The earth itself and its variety of persistent life is indeed a miracle of major proportions. Our ability to create sounds with our vocal cords (or to type out sentences with our fingers) so that others can understand the thoughts that rumble around in our brains is absolutely wondrous. The fact that we are walking around on this orb of rock and water, with our opposable thumbs and hair growing in surprising places, is perhaps the biggest miracle of all. Photosynthesis, the carbon cycle, Coriolis forces… the electromagnetic spectrum… I could go on and on but the point is that I pray I never lose that sense of wonder at what God hath wrought here on this remarkable surface of our existence.
Ahem… ok, back to the sermon.
Q got us back on the message track by describing some of his story growing up in Alabama as a football player with aspirations of taking that endeavor to the next level. He decided instead to follow God’s direction... much to the puzzlement of his friends and family. It was pointed out that we all have our stories and that it is not uncommon for the journey of our story to reach that place where our wheels spin and we feel stuck. Faith is our greatest tool in that battle to gain the traction we need to transform our stories in a way that will expand God’s presence in our lives and in the world around us.
Q took us through two stories of healing through Faith as told in Luke 8:40-56. Miracles created by faith; the first from a father seeking healing for his critically ill daughter which was seemingly interrupted by a woman ostracized by her medical condition. These are stories of contrast unified by the faith to know that the power of His touch could bring about a transformative miracle of healing. Such steps of faith are never easy but the reward is always worth the risk and both Jairus and the woman found that once they made that decision to give their lives to the Lord, they could no longer stay hidden: Two people transformed through faith by the power of Love in the person of Jesus Christ who is the greatest wonder of all.
Once we make that critical decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, most of us will do our best to author our stories with works of service and kindness and then humbly place that before the Throne with the expectation that God will bless the decisions we’ve made and sign off on our stories of good deeds and intentions. Q wrapped the sermon with the compelling notion that true faith means not authoring our own stories. True faith is, instead, placing the blank slate of our lives at His feet with a faith that allows God to author of the story of our lives. What an amazing and beautiful concept… that God would understand how to script our lives to bring fulfillment and the power of love to our existence and to those around us. Hallelujah.