Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Pastor's Perspective - Nothing Even Comes Close
Pastor Bill Hybels in his book ‘Courageous Leadership’ wrote the following – “There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited…Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness…No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.” Over the course of the last several months and particularly last week, Bill Hybels words have resonated with me deeply, as we as a congregation have been rallying behind a critically ill young man and his family.
Jonathan Booker is a hilarious ‘fireball’ of energy and faith-fueled zeal. He and his lovely wife Viola and their two sweet children simply love Jesus – and it shows. I have had the privilege of being their pastor for over 5 years now. Well over a year ago, my wife Michelle and I asked the Bookers to co-lead a brand new community (small) group) here at First Christian. We saw this as a way to meet others needs, groom ‘JB & Vi’ for leadership, and selfishly enjoy this dear couple we love so dearly. To the glory of God, over the course of 2009, we bonded tightly as a group and as a leadership team.
About midway through the year, JB began to acknowledge that something was causing him to lose both his sleep and appetite. Within a few months he lost over 50 lbs, something very unsettling for this work-out-a-holic and his wife. The source of his illness was a mystery no doctor could seem to pin-point. Finally, after an extended time in the hospital, he was diagnosed with lupus – a disease that randomly causes the body to attack itself while depleting the immune system.
After several weeks in the hospital, on Christmas morning he was moved from his private room to ICU, where his life hung in the balance. A few days later, aggressive surgery was performed to remove the source of his dire complications. As an update, last night he required another surgical procedure, with more anticipated. As of now, he remains in critical condition with bleeding challenges and a long road of recovery ahead.
Friends, if I was the ‘CEO of the Universe’, I would have never written this chapter in Jonathan Booker’s life – an unanticipated chapter filled with an endless parade of “Why’s?” However, as a believer in Jesus Christ and someone grossly unqualified to sit on Heaven’s throne, I am called to simply trust – and encourage others to do likewise. All I really know in this trial is that God is good, that God is in complete control, that God sees a grander picture we don’t, that God loves the Booker family more than all of us combined, and that God listens to pray and always answers. I also know that as the Almighty, He owes us no explanations; that anything we can ascertain is an exhibition of His grace.
Since last week I have witnessed His awe-inspiring grace. I have watched and marveled at the Bride of Christ in her most beautiful light. I’ve seen for several days now a hospital waiting room become a campground and rally site of JB and Vi’s fellow community group members and faithful church partners, all there to show support and love in its many glorious and selfless ways. Some bring food. Some sit silently and pray. Some simply cry with the crying. Some have spent the night and want to be available for any “what ifs”. We even had a spontaneous worship service on Sunday afternoon - right outside of the ICU! Tears streamed and voices sang ‘How Great is Our God’, and like Paul and Silas in a Philippian jail, patients and staff stopped and listened. Meanwhile back at the church, prayer vigils (spontaneous and planned) have been taking place daily. Every social networking avenue has been hijacked by our people as a clarion call for JB. Our FCC partners have been activating prayer chains all around the globe. Why? Because Jonathan Booker is our brother. We absolutely refuse to let go of the horns of the altar. We will not give in and we will not give up. We all know that if any of us were in the bed, the church would do the very same thing for any of us. We hold deeply that family doesn’t give up on family. We believe that there are no testimonies without trials, and we have a faith-filled vision of JB stand before us soon healthy and strong giving us his! Simply put, the church is leaning into our Father. The church is leaning into each other. The church is rallying in love. The church is taking off its bib and putting on a towel. The church is rising up. The church is being the church!
‘No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.’
**At 11:24 a.m. Sunday, January 3rd, Jonathan was ushered into the presence of his Maker...rewarded with the ULTIMATE healing! Although we are sad & we mourn... We are rejoicing in the ASSURANCE that he is with The Lord & we WILL see him again! PRAISE THE LORD... ALWAYS! Thank you to everyone who has prayed. Please pray for peace for his family.