My first years as a Christian were not easy, to say the least. Having come from an environment where I was the center of attention, where acting, dressing and being strange were not only the norm but expected practice, this was a huge change.
By this I mean church. I have so many fond memories of my first church home, Church On The Way (Pastor Jack Hayford). The worship, the loving congregation, the stellar teaching all made it hard to leave a few years later when God showed me that I had to get closer to my people.
The simple truth is that I always felt dirty. Sure I knew I was saved and proudly dressed in my new-found Christian garb which oft consisted of pleaded pants, polo-style shirts with designer labels, v-neck sweaters and loafers. A long way from Hollywood. No wonder I felt dirty. I was lying!
Along with the regular church services I also attended College Class, a Sunday school class designed for my age group. Our pastor Dan Brown often stated that if we ever wanted to be in any kind of public ministry, we had to learn how to serve in every way that came across our path. What he meant was help out around the church-setting up, tearing down etc.
One day after a Sunday service, Pastor Jack requested that some boys stick around and help set up for a luncheon soon to take place. I saw this as my chance to serve God. Little did I know that it would entail a bit more than setting a few tables. In fact, we needed to roll these huge tables in and put them together and then set them up.
I was terrified. The tables, on their sides, were bigger than me and the other guys were effortlessly rolling them in. When it was my turn I jumped in full throttle, grabbed a table, rolled with gusto and held on for dear life as it toppled on its side, fell flat on the ground with a huge thud with me still holding on like I was going to save it.
Yes, I was flat on my face on the underside of a luncheon table and the whole room turned to look, many running to see if I was ok.
I wasn’t. Aside from my bruised ego, my lip was bleeding. Worse than that, I realized something I had never known before: I was a bit of a sissy. Sure I was a classical pianist from an early age, forbidden from doing sports and any kind of lifting or roughhouse.
But this was different. I was not like the other guys who were “serving the Lord” that morning. Yes I was saved and a new creature in Christ but He had not restored me to the secular and cultural manhood I had assumed He would by that point. Nor would He any time soon. Little did I know that this “weakness” displayed would eventually prove a great strength in the ministry God would grace me with in years to come.
I guess I did serve the Lord that fateful Sunday morning.
Imagine my gratitude shortly thereafter when God led me to my next church home where the only set-up was that of folding chairs for church and the only “serve God” request from the leadership was that some of us arrive early and pray over the chairs, for the butts that would be sitting in them.
Now that was a service I could provide without injury and shame.