Consider for a moment how God has taken the weakest and the worst to turn the world upside down. Whom did He choose when He had a major earthshaking task to perform? He walked into a cobbler shop in Northampton, England, and tapped a man on the shoulder as he labored over his shoe lasts. In that humble shop God called William Carey to open up the dark
Hindu land of India to the preaching of the gospel. That unknown leather worker became the father of the modern missionary movement in India, and it was my privilege, as a missionary there years later, to work with a direct descendant of the first Hindu convert won to Christianity by William Carey.
Again, Jesus passed down a side Street in Chicago and entered a shoe store where a struggling Christian lad was working as a salesman. His name was D. L. Moody, and Jesus called him that day to be a witness for Him. Dwight Moody stepped out of that little store to become one of the greatest lay evangelists since the days of the apostles. Later, he and his gospel singer, Sankey, went to England for a large evangelistic series in the city of London. On one of their slack days, they took a carriage ride through the forest outside the city, and there they came across an encampment of gypsies. Moody ordered the driver to stop so that he might preach to the ill-famed group who crowded around the carriage. After the sermon Sankey sang one of his beautiful gospel appeal songs. One earnest little gypsy boy stood by the carriage wheel and never took his eyes off the great soloist during the song. Sankey was so moved by the lad that he put his hand on his head and said, "God make a preacher out of this boy." Later, under the influence of that kindly Christian attention, that forest gypsy boy dedicated his life to the ministry and powerfully impacted the world as Gypsy Smith.
In His own day, Jesus also called two tempestuous brothers, who worked the boats and nets with their father Zebedee. James and John seemed to be even less likely candidates for the ministry than the impetuous Peter. They had hair-trigger tempers and would fight at the drop of a hat. Christ actually gave them a nickname m response to their violent dispositions. He called them "Sons of Thunder." Perhaps He bestowed that name after the experience in the Samaritan village. It was there that the brothers wanted to call fire down from Heaven to burn up the entire population because they did not show appropriate hospitality.
From all appearance Jesus was destroying His mission by calling James and John to be His disciples. It must have been obvious to everyone that these men would embarrass the Master every time they opened their mouths. Yet, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing. He saw the glorious potential in the lives of those cantankerous brothers. One of them would become the most tender-hearted of the twelve, leaning upon the bosom of Jesus and writing unparalleled epistles about love for others. Once again God had chosen the "things which are despised to confound the things that are mighty." "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20).
Then there was the time Jesus went walking in the Bowery section of wicked old New York City, and down in the filth of the street lay a drunken wretch of a man by the name of Sam Hadley. Every day he would lie in the gutter as a revolting spectacle to those who passed by, and each night he would crawl into one of the flea-bitten rooms along the Bowery to sleep it off. And that's what Jesus saw as He passed by and looked. Or was it what Jesus saw? The truth is that Christ did not see a hopeless derelict at all. He looked past the filth and corruption and saw the man Sam Hadley could become through the power of His grace. He said, "Follow me," and that seeming piece of human refuse responded. For years Sam Hadley preached the gospel along the waterfronts of New York, leading thousands to accept the life-changing grace of Christ, and proving again that God can make the best out of the worst.
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