The Holy Rebel

“Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.
He’s the king, I tell you.” – Mr. Beaver*

My favorite grocery store is five miles east of my home, down a two-lane highway in the middle of a forest preserve. Forest preserves are Illinois’s excuse for nature. No buildings are allowed along this highway—not even cell phone towers. Siri once asked me who I was as I drove home along this road.

There is an older man who rides his bike and takes up his post on the corner of a cross street on this highway. For hours at a time, he holds a sign that says:

Trust Jesus
Be saved 

He is positioned in such a way that it is impossible to stop and talk to him. When I drive by him, I study his sign, his face, his bicycle. I am full of curiosity. Is he an evangelist? Is he fulfilling an Arthur Dimmesdale type of atonement for some sin? Is he mentally ill? I feel sad when I see him, knowing he’s likely the laughing stock of the highway. And surely, no one will be moved toward God through this man’s efforts.

Or will they?

Who am I to say God won’t use this odd man for His glory? 

God told Isaiah to preach in his underwear.

God used the voice of a donkey to talk sense into His prophet Balaam.

God used Jael to defeat the Canaanites when she gently offered the commander of their army a snack and a nap and then drove a tent peg through his head. 

God knocked Paul off his horse and blinded him to get his attention.

I have an attractive God box that does not contain organ music, cheesy Christian movies, or evangelistic tracts (especially the one people leave for servers at restaurants that says, “Here’s a tip for you!”). My God box is not offensive or weird or embarrassing. Most important, it is safe.

I can’t tell you how many times God has hopped out of my box to do something totally unexpected. I shove Him back in as soon as I can.

If God told me to stand on a street corner with a sign, would I? 

May we all, like Mr. Beaver, value goodness over safety.

*The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Marcia Thomas lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband of 40 years. She has raised four handsome, self-actualizing sons. She has found healing in exploring her story in the presence of others and treasures the opportunities she has to be that presence for others. She is surprised and pleased to find that the glad work of healing does not have a retirement age.