The sermon on Sunday was just for Jimmy. And of course, for me, too. After all, it was Randy A’s message, and of all the pastors he’s the one who’s known our story best, and cheered for us longest. He was the first pastor I told about adopting, and from the very beginning he knew how hard it would be – knew it better than we did. Most likely he thought we were crazy, even though he didn’t say it. He just said he’d pray.
So earlier this summer when it was Jimmy going to McAllen, and me a leader on the trip, and we sent out our letters, Randy was first to respond. And not just a little. And when it was Jimmy coming home from the mission trip and saying yes to being baptized, showing the world he’s following Jesus, it was Pastor Randy who said he’d be there again, cheering him on, and preaching his sermon.
The Bible is one big story from beginning to end, and God is the hero of the story. How many times have I said it like this? In classes I teach, and the stories I tell. My Covenant Story. And Sunday last, Randy chooses this message for our special day. “God is the hero of your story, too.”
We’re in Hebrews 11. What Faith Looks Like. The past several weeks, telling these stories about the Bible’s faith heroes. Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph and Moses. We’re tempted to see them as spiritual giants, until we look at them closer, and see the whole picture. How little they did, and how often they failed, yet amazing things happened, and there’s only one explanation. The Faith Hall of Fame has only one Hero, and it’s God who’s the hero of all of the stories.
Jimmy’s been telling his story a lot this summer. First to me on the way home from our mission-trip training. Then in McAllen, one night at the pool. A shorter version for his baptism video. He tells this story of coming to Jesus. He talks about memories of fighting and hating, and how the struggles of life made a little boy angry. Made him want to be bad. But then God gave him his foster parents, and they loved Jesus, and they loved Jimmy, too. They’d take him to church, but even there he was somewhat inclined to be a bad little kid. Everyone else was singing and dancing and worshipping Jesus, but he’d sit there not caring at all. And then one day he was there at church, still not caring, when something happened. It was the words of a song about the Holy Spirit, about being thirsty and longing for filling. And this tough little boy knew the song was for him. That’s when it hit me. I was missing something, and it was the love of Jesus. So later that night with his foster family, Jimmy prayed for Jesus to enter his life.
He tells us, too, about how it was hard, leaving home and country, starting all over. A new family, a new language, nothing the same and everything different. Life again was overwhelming, and he said it to God – This is too crazy! But looking back now, he can see the big picture, and how God has been good and His plan’s been amazing. God’s been the Hero of this story, too.
We’re tempted sometimes to make people the heroes. A scrappy little kid makes his way through trouble, suffers all kinds of loss, and still manages to thrive. A foster mom and dad open their home to dozens of children, show them God’s love, and take them to church. An American family says yes to adoption, welcomes teenaged boys and gives them a home. Who are the heroes? It’s true it can be hard to tell. Yet there’s Something Bigger weaving all these people and all these places and all of these stories, and I’m here to tell you, this is SO IMPORTANT!
There’s only one HERO and the Hero is God.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 –the verse Jimmy chose for his baptism, August 20, 2017)