Published August 8, 2017
Have you ever been a service where a speaker said they believe someone in the service had a special (even a specific) need that had to be addressed at the altar? This happens in some churches much more frequently than in others. I've even seen it happen at Gospel concerts, although not often.
But if you've seen it happen more than once, you've probably seen cases where there is no (visible) response. You wonder about the genuineness of that "word from the Lord" the preacher spoke. You might even be a little embarrassed for the preacher. Did he get this wrong? Worse, did he just make this up, hoping someone would respond anyway? (It's a shame we even think this way.)
But consider: Perhaps the word was real and the individual(s) affected simply failed to respond. Who will God honor in this case? The preacher who was faithful to the Holy Spirit's direction and spoke the word he was given? Or the individual who refused the Holy Spirit's urging, perhaps to avoid public shame or, at least, a bruised ego?
Recently, I read about an amazing case in which someone a Christian NFL player, in fact faced just such a situation.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr says he was one of the speakers at a large event with his brother and hundreds of others in attendance. At the end, the pastor had an altar call. But then something unusual happened. "As clear as day," Carr recalls, "the Holy Spirit tells me, Someone in here is going to commit suicide unless you say something.'"
Carr's mind raced. Say what? Stand up and say someone present was going to kill himself or herself? What if he said something and nothing happened? He would look "silly" in front of all those people. "I'm trying to question myself, because that's a big step... That's a lot of obedience to step out there and do that."
Then Carr did what the Holy Spirit had urged him to do. He grabbed the pastor's microphone and boldly said, "Someone in here, it got so hard, to where you are going to end your life and you are going to kill yourself...tonight. And I'm just here to tell you that Jesus loves you, that I love you, that He has a plan for your life."
Then it happened. A man in the crowd pointed to himself. "He came up," Carr recalls, "and he was bawling his eyes out, just standing there. And I was able to hug him and tell him how much I loved him" and about "how much of a plan God has for his life."
Then something totally unexpected happened. A second man, crying profusely, confessed he had also been planning suicide that very evening. "We were able to go over there and just love on him and pray for him right there," Carr recalls.
The service ended, but as Carr was leaving, he encountered a kid' in the parking lot. As Carr passed, the kid looked up from his phone and told him, "That suicide thing you were talking about, that was me."
Later, Carr said he'd never experienced anything like that in his life, and, of course, he gives all the glory to God for saving three lives that night. (Who knows maybe there were more!) And here's the key. As Carr says, "All of it was being obedient." Sure it could have been humiliating if nothing had happened. It was potentially a personal sacrifice. But he was ultimately obedient.
There's the key. Samuel noted that "to obey [the Lord] is better than sacrifice" (1 Sam. 15:22).
In Carr's words, "I think it's truly important, saying, God is this what you want,' seeing what He wants, and then going and doing that, being obedient to what He wants."
If we can take ourselves, our ego, our pride, completely out of the equation to the extent that all of the glory for what happens goes to God not to us then He will surely be pleased with our obedience and will, indeed, use it for His glory.
Would you be so bold? It's not an easy question. But it's one that's important prayerfully to consider.
The same, by the way, goes for general witnessing. Are you bold enough to step out of your comfort zone and actually do it? How bold are you in telling others about Christ?
As Peter and John prayed in Acts 4:29, "Lord...grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word..."
Note: You can view Carr's testimony online here.
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