WHEN GODíS WORD SLAYS YOU
A Short Story
Written by Dr. Rick McGrath, Ph.D.
Years ago while working at McDonald Douglas in Huntington Beach, California, I had the privilege of starting a bible study plant wide during our lunch hour. As I remember it, it was April 1977when I began working there. My dad also worked there, in fact he helped me get hired on after getting out of the military as a Marine Corps Staff Sergeant. Being raised Catholic my family and friends werenít sure what was going on with me. They just know one day I woke up and I was different.
Some six months earlier I went through a life changing event that transformed me from a mean, hard hearted military casualty of war. Trained to kill, being taken prisoner wasnít an option. In 1989 my wife gave birth to our third child. We named him Jairus. A name taken from the bible. It was Jairus who had a daughter that died and Jesus came and gave her life again. Our son was born with several heart defects and had to have surgery. Unfortunately for our family, he died. No matter how tough I thought I was, no matter how much I thought I controlled outcomes, I finally met my match. As I look back it was Godís way of emptying me of all the ugly that had built up over the seven years of my military service. I was crushed and reduced to tears and fears.
While taking a bus to and from work, I met a guy named Tom. I used to listen to him and several of his friends talking about Jesus and the bible out loud. In fact it was hard not to hear. I think they planned it that way. One day I purposely sat next to him as the bus took all of us from Riverside to McDonald Douglas in Huntington Beach. We hit it off right away. We got to talking and within a month or two he was inviting me to home bible studies on Wednesday evenings.
While at work Tom introduced me to several other Christian friends who wanted to start a bible study during our lunch hour. I thought it was a great idea. We formed the study with several of us who led the study at different locations and departments within the company. We elected a senior leader for our group who helped keep things moving smoothly. There was both a first and second lunch period so anyone who wanted to participate had access to a bible study.
All denominations and backgrounds participated. There was a diversity of Christians that attended. Typically the bible study would stay clear of so called controversial subject matter like the gifts of the Spirit and such. Many churches either donít feel the gifts of the Spirit are for todayís church and Christians or they just donít believe in a Holy Trinity. Divinity yes, Trinity no.
After my son died, along with my wife, we went to several different churches. Though we were Catholic and more accustomed to the ordinary mass approach in celebrating Sunday church, we occasionally attended several black Pentecostal churches. In fact I remember the first time I went down the isle for an alter call to give my life to Jesus. Catholics didnít really do it that way so I wanted to be sure that I was sure I was saved. My wife and oldest daughter who was about 9 or 10 years old at the time joined me. As I was walking toward the altar, the closer I got the weaker my legs got. The power of the Holy Spirit was so thick, it was beyond adjectives to explain it. All I know I was standing there one minute, the next I was looking up. There was no explanation for what just happened. A tough well trained marine was on the floor without being touched.
Knowing the power of God and the gift I believed he wants all of us to have, I wanted to share the word and the experience with the folks at the bible study. I happened to mention the subject matter of my lesson I was going to share at the upcoming bible study with my friend Tom. He was a little skeptical because not everyone believed as I did or was as fired up as I was. He suggested I replace the subject matter with something a little less alarming. Being on fire has itís advantage and disadvantage. The advantage is itís hard to dissuade an on fire Christian who has heard from God, the disadvantage is it can bring unwanted heat and rebuke from fellow leaders. Since I wasnít willing to change my position, Tom mentioned it to the Senior leader Don. Don came to me the following day suggesting as Tom did that I not cover the subject matter that I had planned. As I stated to Don, I had prayed about it and felt that if I was going to serve God and spread his word, I needed to listen to the Spirit within me and move forward. Though he conceded and let me move on with my message he also gave me a stern warning. He was very concerned that there would be a fall out from those that attended.
Wednesday rolled around and it was Holy Ghost revival time. Before starting after opening prayer, I told everyone in the group what my message topic was going to be and I promised them if they opened their minds and hearts to the word of God, they would receive a special gift that very day. The bible was clear. The words were simple. With their hearts and minds open the word and the Sprit of God fell on each of us as if we were the ones sitting in the upper room at Pentecost. Some began to cry, others began speaking in tongues who never did before, some couldnít stand up. Knees were weakened. Even I felt the power when I tried to stand up.
Call after call went into Don that afternoon especially the ones Don thought would flip out and be offended by the message. They all told him what a powerful and healing experience they had. Don called me and told me he was really worried and thought the message could very well destroy the bible study we fought management to get. The power and word of God spoke that day. Lives changed, memories and bodies healed.
Don was pleased and blessed for allowing me to proceed. A message to us all.
For me it was another lesson learned that when God sends you with a message you better deliver it. I would hate to have ended up learning the hard way like Jonah. Living and working at Huntington Beach, I could have very well ended up the belly of a whale.
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