A few weeks ago I preached a sermon titled, "Glory Beyond Us". It was based on John 12:20-33. To begin the sermon I talked about one of our loyal UBFM members and I used him as an illustration.
“Glory Beyond Us”
Towards the end of last year a new volunteer came to help out with the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry named Jason. When I first met him, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical. He is in his mid twenties and when he first showed up to volunteer he was dressed in old clothing that might have missed a couple washings but, dressed to his best. His shirt was tucked and collar straight as if he were about to attend Sunday worship. He was as nice as he could be and very enthusiastic but there was something out of the ordinary about him. I assumed, and later found out that I was correct, that he is autistic. At first I thought he might have ventured in from the street but he told me he lived in North Memphis and he took the bus to get there. He said he heard about us from the news. He said he wanted to help but he needed to borrow a bicycle. At the time, I happened to have an extra bike, backpack, and helmet. When the time came for us to ride I sent him on the easiest route and told another volunteer to keep an eye on him. I have to admit, I did not know if I would get the bike back but I didn't care; he was happy to be there. Jason came back very happy that he had a great ride and made some new friends. He has become a loyal volunteer. We built a bike for him to keep and he rides it from the bus stop to the church every Wednesday night.
What I have learned about Jason is that the Holy Spirit is very strong and alive in him. Before each ride, I or someone else will lead the group in prayer. A few weeks ago the groups were split up and about to leave the church to deliver supplies and just as I was about to lead the group in prayer Jason says, “Mr. Tommy, I got this.” I paused for a second and I said, “Umm, ok Jason, go for it.” Then, this young autistic gentleman commences to deliver one of the most beautiful prayers I have heard. I heard God speaking through him. I was completely moved. When he said, "Amen" the small crowd stood in silence for a few seconds looking at him and back at one another. They then departed ready to serve our friends and neighbors on the streets.
What I took form this is to never discredit someone’s words because it might be God speaking through them. I learned on that night that God will speak to God’s people through voices you would not expect. I am sure a lot of people fail to listen to Jason because of his appearance or because he has specific needs. But I have learned that he is quite a brilliant young man and God continues to speak to me through him.
God’s voice comes to people in many different ways. It is most likely the way you would not expect. Most of the time people like to tell themselves that it is not God speaking because it is not what they want to hear. But the truth, it may very well be what you don’t want to hear.