Mr. Jones (or, The Wind Resistance of Vomit)

We’ve been thinking about how to find God’s heart for lost people, so I thought I’d tell you about a time when I lost it, and what led me to find it again.

When I first started following Jesus all I could think about was people who weren’t following Him. I ached for them and wanted them to discover what I had. I spent all my time with lost people and led a bunch of them to God. Then I started interacting with Christians. One told me it wasn’t cool for me to listen to secular music. I was brand new, had no idea, and so I listened to him … and stopped listening to secular music. Someone else told me to not watch R rated movies, so I stopped. Soon I transferred to Seminary and found myself surrounded by Christians. After Seminary I worked at a church in Louisville, then another outside Washington D.C. and in both I was almost exclusively with Christians. And what happened during this time is that my heart stopped pounding for those who were far from God.

Then it happened. It was about 1:00 in the morning. My wife was sleeping in the passenger seat next to me. We were moving to Virginia Beach to start a new church. I was listening to the radio … to a secular station (clearly a violation of my parole agreement). A song came on that I had never heard, “Mr. Jones” by the Counting Crows. The singer, Adam Duritz, sang, “Please help me to believe in something. Because I don’t believe in anything. And I want to be someone who believes … who believes … who believes …”

And I started thinking about this guy who wants to believe in something, but can’t. Who has no faith, no hope, no real love. And he’s writing songs begging for someone to talk to him and to give him something to believe in. Suddenly I started to feel ill. For several years I had been closing my eyes to people like Adam Duritz. I wouldn’t even listen to their music because it might have a bad influence on me; but what influence did it have on me to stop listening to it?

I had been learning about Jesus’ mission and teaching others about it, but not engaging in it myself. The Jesus life is about being and sharing the good news with others. That was Jesus’ mission for my life, but I had been ignoring it.

I was going to be sick. I was seriously about to throw up. I was driving 65 miles per hour down the highway and had no idea what to do. I rolled down my window and tried to project appropriately. That was when I learned that puke does not have much wind resistance. My vomit started to go out the window, thought better of it, reversed its course, and came right back at me. It flew right past my face, and all over my sleeping wife. She woke up and screamed, “What’s happening to me?!?

It was a horrible moment. But it was also a great moment. Because I realized my wife wasn’t really the one asleep. I was. I had been sleep-walking through my Christian life the past four years. That vomit was meant for me. It was a holy wake-up call from God. And I made a commitment right then that I would never lose the rhythm of God’s heart beat again.

So here’s the principle I’ve learned: We find God’s heart for lost people by being around lost people, and we lose it when we’re not. So here’s the question I continually have to ask myself: What can I do to get myself around lost people? Because if I’m going to improve at reaching lost people, I need to understand and have God’s heart for them.

Talk more tomorrow, until then … let’s be careful out there.

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