Towards the latter half of my shift things tend to die down and I don’t get a lot of people calling my line, so I tend to listen to podcasts from a few different sources. Lately, I have been listening to stuff from The Resurgence. I came upon a wonderful talk from John Bishop from Living Hope Church called “Go Back the Way You Came” which you can listen to or watch here.
The very heart of this talk was centered around making things work when planting a church when building another campus somewhere, as was the case with John. He really pushed to go back to basics and when things didn’t work to go back the way you came. I won’t really go over much of it, but I did want to bring up a story that I thought was really interesting. It’s probably common knowledge by now but I’m going to bring it up anyways.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Arthur Stace. The man was raised by brothel owners, was illiterate, had been in jail and then a ward of the state. To say he had humble beginnings is an understatement for sure. He attended a meeting for men for a free meal where he got his first taste of Christianity:
Noticing six tidily dressed people near the front (in marked contrast to the bulk of those attending), he asked the man sitting next to him, a well-known criminal: “Who are they?” “I’d reckon they’d be Christians”, he replied. Stace said: “Well look at them and look at us. I’m having a go at what they have got,” — and he slipped down on his knees and prayed
Then, one day, on the street he heard a man preaching and recalls it:
Stace, recalling the day, said: “He repeated himself and kept shouting ‘ETERNITY, ETERNITY’ and his words were ringing through my brain as I left the church. Suddenly I began crying and I felt a powerful call from the Lord to write “ETERNITY”. I had a piece of chalk in my pocket and I bent down there and wrote it.”
And so would begin a journey for a man who would begin to write this an upwards of 500,000 times before the time of his death. It has been called the shortest sermon in history. But what amazes me is this. How God uses those that are from the most broken of backgrounds, the most horrible of places, the darkest of hours. How God can turn a simple man’s work from this:
This is the Sydney Harbor Bridge. From what I read, a lot of people were wondering the meaning of this as the fireworks lit up the Sydney night sky on New Years 2000. This was in honor of the man who spent his entire life writing the word “Eternity” everywhere he walked. Urging everyone to think about eternity if only for a passing moment… or until they found the word written again.
I think John Bishop said it best in his talk because it sums up how I feel and certainly the story of Arthur Stace: “Broken hearts produce breakthrough faith”.