This was one of the most defining moments of my life
It was in the early 80’s, I was a rising senior executive for a Fortune 1000 company and a fairly new believer on my journey to become The Man God Intended. In my quest to discover who I was as a man, I decided to ask a range of people, beginning with my family, what they saw in me. A significant person on my list of those to pursue was a man that would become my mentor and great personal friend, Pastor Jack Hayford. What follows is the story of what happened when I asked him what he observed in me. If you happen to know Pastor Jack you are probably smiling right now and thinking, that is a very dangerous question.
It turned out to be a pretty long lunch. When I asked Pastor Jack for his impression of me I remember a blank stare and an uncomfortable period of silence. Then, he reached over and grabbed the salt and pepper shakers from the side of our table. He took the pepper shaker and said see this…this represents product. You like product. Nodding, but not really knowing where this was going, he continued. You know why you like product? I said no and he continued—you know how to purchase the raw material, you know how to manufacture it, you know how to package it, price it, display it, sell it—you can control product.
At this point I am thinking I may not like where this is headed but was still clueless. He then grabbed the salt shaker and continued. Vince, this is fruit. You don’t like fruit. It just so happens I really don’t like fruit but I had a good idea that was not what he meant. He then added, do you know why? It’s because fruit grows the way it wants to grow. At this point he began to describe from the cellular level the incredible nature of fruit and all of its nourishing attributes in ways I had never heard. And then came the clincher—Vince I see you as a Tiger becoming a Lion.
It was at this point I had to call a time out—Ok Pastor Jack, help me understand the zoological implications of that one? He did—he went on to talk about the differences between a Tiger and a Lion in ways that blew me away. Remember, this is the man who wrote the powerful song, Majesty. He talked about how the Tiger is a skilled hunter, like the Lion, but that they hunt singular—they are not familial like Lions. He talked about the majesty and patience of the Lion and then said, Jesus is not referred to as the Tiger of Judah, but the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
He encouraged me by letting me know how much he believed in me, but recognized I needed to rely much more on the Holy Spirit in my life then on my human ability to control. He concluded by saying he saw me as a marble that God wanted to turn into a grape. He held out his hand and used his thumb to demonstrate pressing down on a marble and reminded me that when the pressure is exerted the marble escapes—it will not be crushed.
On the other hand, he suggested that when you become that precious and ripe grape, submitted to the will of your heavenly Father, that same pressure now reveals the sweetness from your life that will extend to strengthen and nurture the lives of others. What a powerful picture I received on that memorable day.
My friends, there are a couple of take-aways I want you to consider from this story. First, the wisdom of asking others what they see in you. I recommend this to practically every audience I address when talking about how to find God’s direction for your life. It will provide a rich and meaningful flow of information that will help you better understand your blind-spots—we all have them.
But second, and most important is the lesson regarding letting go of our way and letting God fill us with His Holy Spirit. Something that can only happen as I totally surrender my total being to Him and allow His richness to fill me for the designed purpose of extending His wonderful grace to a dying world. In order for this to happen, we MUST get our eyes off of all the distractions and confusion going on in our culture right now and focus on what God wants to do with us.
We must remember that what comes out of us is only the product of what is in us. If I am filled with anger, disgust, disbelief and fear, that is what I communicate to others when I am squeezed. However, if I understand that He is crazy about me and desires to fill me up with His love, patience, kindness and joy, then imagine the significance of that flow as it is extended to a fractured people.
Make no mistake, we are living in perhaps the most critical point in all of human history when it comes to the juxtaposition of light vs darkness.
I want to close with some powerful words from a devotional I read just the other day:
He who believes in Me ... out of his heart will flow ... John 7:38
Jesus did not say, “He who believes in Me will realize all the blessings of the fullness of God,” but, in essence, “He who believes in Me will have everything he receives escape out of him.” Our Lord's teaching was always anti-self-realization. His purpose is not the development of a person — His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain but what He pours through us that really counts. God's purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us — and we cannot measure that at all. –Oswald Chambers