I’m doing something a little different with this one. Most of you would be familiar with my writing about the Bible. But a majority of you know nothing about me. Nothing about my story. Nothing about my life. Nothing about how I got to this point in history.
And I’ve got no problems with that. At all.
This blog exists to make much of God. It is the very fabric of this whole thing. I have no higher goal or prayer. That through these words of mine, you would come to know God more. That these words would simply compel and drive you further into God’s word.
So. Working off the premise that God is glorified in our weakness. I want to do something a little bit different. I want to share with you a story from my life. It’s about a man I hardly knew. I never even got his name. But looking back, I realise how important this man’s actions were in my life. And how he challenged me without him even realising it.
Quick clarification necessary: I have always considered myself a Christian. And tons of awesome Christian men and women have come alongside me over the years. Pastors. Teachers. Grandparents. Friends. The best parents in the world. But it was the actions of a man I hardly knew that challenged me to get baptised.
Mystery set up. Let’s get into it.
It all started with cycling.
Before school everyday I would be out on my bike. Pedalling away along the esplanade. Sweating it out as the sun came up every morning. I aspired to be a pro – racing in the Tour De France, cranking it up the inclines of the Alpe d’Huez. And so I joined a cycling group. I was pretty nervous about it at first. Being the new guy. I remember just being super anxious to get the approval of the group. Eventually, I did.
A couple of them starting calling me the “crazy bastard”. I got the name for one reason: I was the only person who rode through winter without any long sleeves or thermals on. I loved the nickname. Because I also happened to be one of the youngest in the group. So I totally adopted this whole idea that I was some young rogue or something.
Especially because I wasn’t shaving my legs at that point.
So I started riding with the “fast group”. And over time, I began to stay with them for longer periods of time. I soon realised that in a cycling group, your legs can do a lot of the talking. And so as I got better, I felt like I was accumulating some social currency.
I remember a Christian guy joining our group. Probably somewhere in his 30’s. Really nice bloke. Great to talk to. Remembered stuff you told him. Could tell a joke. Had an epic African accent. But I noticed (even as a young 15-16 year old) that this guy had two things working against him in our cycling group. One – he wasn’t the best cyclist.
And two – he was very open about his faith.
In terms of social currency, this guy didn’t have a whole lot. To put it nicely, nobody really shared his passion for missions and work with the church. He didn’t mind though. Didn’t bother him. If given the chance, he was always talking about God, or the church, or some sort of mission work. It was clear that this God thing was a real passion of his.
And it soon became clear this God-thing was problematic with the group.
It took a defining moment. We were cruising along as a group, early in the morning, on the road to the Outer Harbour north of Port Adelaide. This Christian guy is doing a turn on the front. And one bright spark (sarcasm) is riding directly behind him. Sensing the moment, he leans back on his bike, and cups both of his hands – one outstretched in front of him, and the other over his right shoulder – as if he is holding a rocket launcher.
And then he just pretends to blow up this Christian guy.
The sound of laughter erupted from this group of men, as the Christian guy proceeded to get shot in the back with a pretend weapon. I mean really childish stuff. The chatter that followed was less than kind about this guy. Suddenly everything was coming to a head. I remember it all crystal-clear. The whole time, I was riding about ten cyclists back.
Watching. Listening. Not saying a word.
This was a pivotal moment for me. It forced me to think. I suddenly had a decision to make. As a Christian, I was not at all opposed to what this guy was so passionate about. But as a cyclist, as one trying to gain the approval of those around me, I found myself in a tight spot. I said nothing at the time. But I thought about this over-and-over for weeks.
Who do I really want to be?
I had two options. Christian or Coward. I could be like everyone else. Just get good at cycling. Just be a good person. But ultimately be a coward, take the easy route, and laugh at someone I actually deep-down admired. Or I could be like the Christian guy. I could choose to be open about my faith, and risk being mocked by the rest of the group.
5 months later, I got baptised.
ONE MAN WITH GOD
One of the hardest things to do is to stand alone.
And at the end of the day, I was seriously impressed with this guy. With his ability to stand alone. Nathan Randall, associate pastor at our church and absolute deadset legend, has been known to say that “one man with God is a majority”.
This man was that one man with God. He had a whole group of men laughing at him. He was alone. And he was in the majority. God stood alone with him. And for him, that was all the approval that he needed. He didn’t need the approval of the group like the rest of us did. And so he just continued on treating everyone the same way.
Far out that was cool to see.
And I am convinced that God wants to meet all of us there. On the fringes, alone and ostracised, loving people that don’t love us. I could insert close to a billion bible verses here to back that up. But I won’t. I just want to take a moment to thank that man.
Mate. The chances of this falling into your hands are pretty slim. But thank you. Thank you for showing me that God is better. Better than cycling. Better than the approval of others. Better than putting up the facade of a strong exterior. Better than everything.
You have no idea the impact you made from that one action.