Growing up I didn’t think there was anything more uncomfortable than pews; I stand corrected. The seats in our church are terribly uncomfortable; that is, if they aren’t broken. Out of a value of being accessible to the community surrounding us, our church meets in a local inner city high school auditorium. The wooden seats are sized for teenage human beings and were made in a time when the American version of human beings was a much more svelt breed. The nearly ancient auditorium seats also provide interesting entertainment; my children love to attempt to read the profanity and vows of lifelong love etched into them.
As a creature of habit raising up the next generation of such, we always sit in the same section and row of these uncomfortable seats. 3rd row from front, middle section: that’s where you’ll find our three ring circus, as I like to call our family on Sunday mornings.
In the row directly in front of us each week sits Timonthy and any number of the friends he has invited to join him that particular week. I call Timonthy the Trophy of Grace; as I share his story I hope you’ll soon see why the title fits.
In God’s providential arrangement, our family and staff team began to settle into our new San Diego lives at exactly the same time Timonthy began attending our church.
The Fourth of the July fireworks set the scenery for the first time we met ever spent considerable time with him. The fireworks were an epic fail, as 15 minutes of fireworks were accidentally set off in an intense 15 seconds; however, hearing bits of Timonthy’s story provided plenty of color to the evening.
After growing up in a devout and God-fearing home, Timonthy found himself living a homosexual lifestyle in a hotbed of drug and alcohol addiction. Although we didn’t know Timonthy in this state, the evidences of a hard life were literally written all over him, as seen in his tired eyes and physical shaking.
The tenacious prayers of his tender mother piled up. God intervened and was in the process of remaking Timonthy into the man we first met.
Over the years, his countenance has literally changed; there is a light in his once tired eyes that is contagious. My children nicknamed him “the rock guy,” because he would show up to Church with handfuls of rocks, shells or candy to dole out to the brood of boys that attend our church. Timonthy helps to lead the Mercy and Justice team at our church that seeks to serve a diaconate role to the desperate people that are drawn to our church.
He also shows up early to Church weekly to coordinate the volunteers who administer the Lord’s Supper. Whenever possible, I choose the line where Timonthy stands with the bread or wine, his hands literally shaking from years of abusing hard drugs. His tender shaking hands and beaming smile remind me that our God is a God of grace and that His table is one of restoration and hope.
Whenever I find myself fearful for my children and the paths they will choose or the decisions they will make, the Lord brings Timonthy, the trophy of grace to mind. The path He took to become the man He is today was anything but pretty; rather, it was painful and often looked hopeless to his family. His story reminds me of Jesus’ interaction with a sinful woman in Luke 7, one of my favorite passages in all of Scripture.
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them…”Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:37-38 & 47)
Timonthy loves much because he has been forgiven much, a modern day, flesh and blood picture of Luke 7 who sits in front of my family each week in worship. Despite the aching back and the profanity lessons, I have the best seat in the house.