My favorite preacher story comes from an old evangelist who was my teacher in Christian camp when I was about 12 years of age. Estal Taylor was his name and he could vouch for the truth of this story because it happened to him. As a very young farm boy Estal received a pair of roller skates for Christmas. Excited, yet inexperienced with roller skates, he immediately sat down and put them on. Unfortunately, he chose the worst room in the old farm house to do so. From a chair against the wall in the large kitchen which was heated by a very hot pot-bellied stove, young Estal stood up to see what would happen. The old stove, being the heaviest thing in the kitchen, had for years warped the floorboards downward, so that young Estal immediately began to coast toward the hot stove. Picking up speed and getting warmer and warmer, he was headed for disaster when a hand suddenly knocked him to the floor. But the force of his body pushed his father’s hand against the burning stove. For the rest of his life his father wore a scar on the back of his hand as a reminder of the incident.
When his father passed away and the undertaker presented him in the casket for all to pay their last respects, Estal noticed that the undertaker had covered the scarred hand with the good one. He immediately told the man to reverse it, explaining, “I want everyone to see it, because that scar on my father’s hand belonged upon my face!”
That story helps me to see the significance of what we are celebrating this Sunday. It isn’t just about Christian history, or the power of God or even the miracles associated with the person of Jesus Christ. Look around you at the results of decades of emphasis on self-love. Many of us are so into ourselves that we have lost the ability to truly love others. We need to see our own unworthiness in stark contrast to God’s great love for us. Then we can properly love ourselves. We simply cannot understand what real love is until we understand that the scars the suffering Christ so willingly received belong upon us. WE deserved to die, not the only perfect man who ever lived.
If even for a fleeting moment you entertain the question “Why should I go to church this Sunday?” thing deeply about Estal Taylor’s story and then join us with a heart full of gratitude, praise and a desire to worship. But remember also, that this story has less to do with where you are this Sunday than it has to do with the direction you intend to commit your life to…..for eternity.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship