Tuesday, July 17, 2018
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Over the years it's been an honor and a pleasure to speak for a lot of professional football chapels. You should have seen me with the New York Giants. I was like the New York dwarf! Hey, listen, I'm tall inside okay. Their "thank you" for speaking was two tickets for the game; great seats reserved for the chapel speaker – midfield under cover. Of course, any time you go to a public event like a game or a concert or a show, you hope for great seats. On occasion, I've even looked up a seating chart for the facility where an event was being held so I knew what seats to ask for. Unfortunately, well, you've got to pay a little for the best seats, but you get a view that most folks can't see.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Best Seats In the House."
For some fifty years, Joni Eareckson Tada's view has been from a wheelchair. She has been a quadriplegic since a horrible diving accident when she was only 17. After some early battles with bitterness and despondency, Joni found in Almighty God her source of joy and hope. Today, her ministry of compassion and hope reaches around the world. She has represented her Lord again and again in major arenas with Christian leaders like Billy Graham, and her radio ministry has a powerful impact on countless lives. But she lives with constant pain, in need of help just to get through each day, imprisoned some might say, in her wheelchair and in her broken body.
In her book "The God I Love," Joni says this to God. "I know I wouldn't know You...I wouldn't love and trust You...were it not for this wheelchair." See, Joni believes that the wheelchair she has often wished she didn't need has actually given her a front row seat on the love and greatness of God. Those who have suffered painfully, those who have been hurt deeply, they're the people who have – or can have – a view of the awesomeness of God that others just never see. And if you're going through a long, dark valley right now, there's hope here for you in seeing beyond the hurt to what could happen if you let your big need open you up to a big God.
In Romans 5, beginning with verse 2, our word for today from the Word of God, the Lord shows us the view that will redeem our pain and turn it into something beautiful. "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit."
You see, suffering surrendered to the Master Potter is the wheel on which He can make you into a masterpiece. And you will experience a depth of hope, a strength of character, and a flood of God's love and grace that can only be experienced by those who need Him desperately. There's no way to really, really know Him until you really, really need Him.
If this is such a time, would you thank Him for it? And don't miss the view because you're all focused on yourself. Condoleezza Rice, the former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State to President George Bush, said in a church where she spoke on "The Privilege of Struggle": "How else, but through struggle are we to get to know the full measure of the Lord's capability for intervention in our lives? If there are no burdens, how can we know that He can be there to lift them?" Or, as in Joni Tada's life, you might never know the Lord, you might never love the Lord, you might never trust the Lord if it weren't for your heavy burden.
Yes, you do have to pay a price for the best seats in the house, but you have a view of the grace and greatness of God that others can't see. The price you pay will last a little while. The view? That will last forever.