by John W. Gray III
My life is a strange combination of knowledge and ignorance. In high school, I never knew that my classmates and I were ranked by GPA until I found out at the end of my senior year that I was salutatorian. I am secretly competitive, and if I had known that there was a list somewhere (and a monetary prize!), I would have worked hard to be first. But I did not know, and so I ended up second only by the grace of God. A few more semesters of PE or higher math and I probably wouldn't have even made the top ten.
That same surprise is what I felt when I first heard Pastor John Gray preach. I grew up in a Christian family and I love God and I thought that going to church and trying to do my best and sacrificing everything was just what was expected of me until the sweet by and by. I was marching along, doing things as best I could, and then all of a sudden I find out that there is more. Wait, what?
I felt like a laborer painting a wall. When a brush or color ran out, more would show up, but only enough for the next little bit. The wall seemed endless and time ground on. Then a voice says, "Come and see." The painter stands back amazed, staring at a giant mural. All those pieces were part of a final picture, one unified whole. My reaction, reading this book and listening to his sermons, has been a series of Oh! moments in my mind and heart.
"You do know that God never wastes pain?"*
"Give them a divine revelation of everything they've been through."
"From what's your name again? to we've been expecting you." (Like that moment in a Barbie movie when she walks up to a castle, dirty and tired, just hoping to be let in for a little shelter, when the servant opens the door and says, "We've been waiting for you. You're the one. All of this is yours.")
"Then God said, "Put the oil on him."" (David, somewhere in one of the Samuels)
"What does He want to do with you?"
Oh! God is doing something. Hang on. Don't give up, not today. It's not all labor and toil and heartache. There is reward, too. These words fell into my dry spirit and breathed new life into me. None of it is in vain. God sees it all. He cares and He is about to make all things right again.
Favorite Quotes from the book:
If you are someone who has felt like your life carries no intrinsic, inherent value, this book is for you. In truth, this book is for all of us. ... God's about to reveal to you a purpose so necessary, so critical, so essential that he had to hide it behind pain, grief, and misunderstanding in order to protect it until this very moment.
The oil didn't flow until he arrived. Why is this significant? Because you should know that as a number 8, you are not in competition with anyone else. ... The anointing we carry as number 8s, the significant specific enablement of God for our calling, is so unique that we are not in competition with anyone else. ... They all complement one another. So we are not in competition with anyone; we are in concert with everyone. ... There is only one heaven." *
"I've learned that the best books are lived before they are written. ...until I had lived the chapters, they couldn't come together correctly."
*The italics are excerpts from his sermon on April 19, 2017, at Lakewood Church in Houston, TX.
A few more of my favorite quotes from His sermon by the same title are below:
"When I think about His goodness my hands go up, and then they stay there, and then they stay there, and then they stay there."
"Pump your fist in the air like you're knocking down a wall."
"Keep knocking until you get your book."