When a Wrong is Right

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There’s a saying that two wrongs don’t make a right.  I’ll say that when God’s hand is involved, sometimes a wrong can be very right, and in my case it couldn’t be truer.  To make a long story short, I made a wrong turn and ended up on Rt. 20 very angry at myself for doing so, and yet too bullheaded to turn around and go the right way.  And there she was, right before my eyes.  The hospital—our beautiful West Ridge.  After 8 years of nasty brokenness I just knew, in the deepest part of my heart, that I had to darken the doorway the next Sunday.  A quick Google search of the church confirmed that.  “Never church as usual” it said.  Little did I know how true that was as I drove in that next Sunday.  I felt welcomed and comfortable, not with pasted on smiles and clichés, but with very real warmness and human kindness and that continued on the next Sunday, and the next, and the next—and it has never stopped.  Not only was I welcomed (and continue to be so), but my brokenness is welcomed (and there’s been plenty of that!).  It didn’t take long to discover the reason why.  If this place were a heart (which in many ways it is), it would be pumping grace and love.  In fact, in one of Pastor Greg’s messages he made a comment that there are so many people, including new people (like myself at the time) who feel like when they first walk in they have been ambushed by grace and love.  That comment has imbedded itself in my mind and heart as what West Ridge is all about.

To me, one exceptional quality of the West Ridge culture that helps make the place what it is, is the openness and transparency of the staff and the leadership team.  They don’t talk to me, they talk with me through their uninhibited sharing of themselves.  The emphasis is on acceptance of human brokenness and the provision of ways to work through it, all the while focusing on the end result—being with Jesus when we take our final breath on our walk down that long dirt road of life. That journey isn’t sugar coated, because they know that life itself isn’t.  So they always offer ample and varied ways to help us grow as we travel that journey.  My heart calms each time I have an opportunity to serve through volunteering.  Any efforts I can lovingly give the church results in me becoming a much better person.  It’s a win-win.  A huge part of my church life is my church family, my small group.  I’m not at all sorry to say you just aren’t going get deep meaningful relationships like that out on the streets.  I’ve been there, done that, and it just didn’t work.

To make a blanket statement about why I love West Ridge so much, let me share a couple of things:

  • When I come to the hospital every Sunday I see and meet a lot of real people who are a lot like me, broken and in need of fixing.
  • I hear pastors who tell it like it is—often so clearly that I am positive that they have been spying on me.
  • I hear messages that challenge me to make some tweaks and changes to how I am living.
  • I see a service that isn’t a production. It’s the efforts of talented volunteers who are using their gifts and abilities to help make meaningful every part of the service to make it a positive experience for me and all the others.
  • I hear music, under great leadership and through extremely gifted musicians and vocalists that likewise isn’t a production, but rather a heartfelt worship and praise portion of the service.
  • Most important of all is when I am here I know with certainty that God is in the house and that He accepts me as I come and as I am.

Being a part of the never as usual culture here has had some real surprising outcomes for me personally. You see, we all have some gift or gifts.  When set free to use those gifts, often amazing things can happen. In my case, I felt free and “right” to author a book which has been published.  “A Better Man, Husband, Father” was a no brainer for me since most of my life I had but one direction to take—getting better.  Then, those words of Greg’s that embedded themselves in my mind and heart came out in the form of a song that made sense to me (click here to listen).   Fair warning—it’s a bit country-ish!

It’s amazing how a wrong can turn out so right.  That folks is a huge “Yea God!”

-Joe Miller

Categories: Blog, Sermon Series

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