Don’t Believe Your Own Headlines
by Sam Williamson
In ninth grade, my brother Andy’s locker
partner (the school drug supplier) had a bad trip
on LSD. The bad trip continued in a small series
of scary flashbacks, and Kevin asked Andy if God
had anything to say about it.
My brother had just had a Sunday school lesson
about the Four Spiritual Laws. He even had a copy
of the tract. Together Andy and Kevin read the
pamphlet, and Kevin prayed the prayer on the last
page: Lord, I want to know you personally …
Take control of the throne of my life.
Kevin’s life abruptly changed. He told everybody
at school that Andy had just introduced him to
God. Kevin’s old customers came to Andy to meet
God, and Andy took them through the pamphlet, and
they met God. Soon they asked Andy questions,
like: how do you pray? how do you read Scripture?
how do you handle temptation?
Andy didn’t know how to respond, so he asked my
parents. My parents made suggestions which Andy
repeated to his new friends, and their lives
changed even more.
One day someone asked a question he couldn’t
answer. On the way home from school, Andy slipped
into a telephone booth (you can find an example in
the Smithsonian History Museum), and he really
prayed for the first time in his life.
And Andy met God. And his life totally changed.
I’m his little brother, and I’m a witness.
Fruit Is a Bad Litmus Test
My brother Andy is not the first person to bear
fruit without a relationship with God. God used
him to convert dozens of students before he
himself was a true disciple. It is so tempting to
measure our spiritual stature by our converts,
followers, or Facebook likes. But Scripture
forbids us to trust our headlines:
- A donkey prophesied to Balaam, but nobody
has ever suggested the donkey was anything
other than an ass.
- Jonah’s sermon convicts 120,000 people who
repent, but Jonah himself is an intolerant,
grace-lacking bigot; he probably would have
disdained St. Francis too.
- Scripture says “many” will prophesy, cast
out demons, and do mighty miracles, and Jesus
himself will declare, “I never knew you;
depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
If we minister to thousands of followers, or if
our kids are perfect or our marriages exemplary,
it might be all for naught; we’re looking at
faulty report cards. God is merciful, so he gives
rain to both the just and the unjust. And since he
sees the neediness of this world, he also works through
both the just and the unjust.
- Paul says, we can speak in tongues, exercise
great prophetic gifts, understand spiritual
mysteries, and even die as martyrs, all for
We Need Simpler Technology
When the disciples return from a mission trip,
they rejoice at all the miracles they performed.
Jesus tells them to rejoice rather in the
relationship they have with him. We injure
God’s work in us through our conscious focus on
the work he does through us.
God often works mightily through us, but in his
mercy, he also pursues us with mysteries that
drive us to him. He sends each of us on detours,
to a phonebooth, where our headlines are stripped
away, and we stand naked before him. Jonah had the
puzzle of the mystifying love of God, and my
brother Andy had the spiritual question he
We can enter that phonebooth as humble Clark Kent
and emerge with the super-natural power of God
that glorifies his name (not ours), or we can
enter the phonebooth carrying our superman
And emerge as an ass.
P. S. Jesus stirs up mysteries so we bring them to
him; so we can grow in intimacy with him. So we
can hear his voice.
Sam Williamson has published
numerous articles and has written two books.
He has a blog site, www.beliefsoftheheart.com,
and can be reached at
God in Conversation: How to Recognize
His Voice Everywhere, by Samuel C.
Williamson, published by Kregel
Publications, 2016, available from Amazon
of guy in red phone booth, photo by Daniels
Joffe on Unsplash.com