Jernigan tells Chapel to blast the past
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
There are many Bible verses that speak directly to leaving the past in the past.
For example, there’s Isaiah 43:18-19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
And Philippians 3:13-14: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
So there’s that, and then there’s the way Jeremy Jernigan put it at Chapel on Monday morning at Grand Canyon University Arena when he gave a talk titled, “Your Past Doesn’t Have to Define You.”
The executive pastor of Central Christian Church keeps getting invited back because he’s such a great story-teller, and the tale of his adventurous 6-year-old son swallowing a nickel — especially the surprise ending — had the audience both laughing hysterically and nodding to his message.
Jernigan used the Book of Jonah to describe the two places many people are in life.
Some feel like Jonah, who didn’t want to fulfill God’s call to preach to the wayward people of Nineveh and get them to repent. Jonah didn’t want anything to do with them.
“How do you treat people who creep you out?” Jernigan asked his listeners, putting it in terms that relate to their everyday life. “This is fundamental to the heart of Christ.”
And some feel as if they’re too much like the people of Nineveh and are beyond God’s help.
“It’s much easier for God to move beyond our past than it is for us,” Jernigan said.
Just as God sent a large fish to swallow Jonah, protect him from the raging sea and deliver him to dry land, He is looking to place things in our lives to get us pointed in the right direction.
“If you’re trying to flee from God, good luck,” Jernigan said. “… The point of this story is to see the amazing, lavish heart of God, a heart that does not want to exclude people but always wants to include them. (He says,) ‘The moment you’re willing to go in a different direction, I’ve got a better story for you.’”
Then Jernigan segued into the story of the nickel, which starts in the 10th minute of the replay link at the bottom of this story. The CliffsNotes version: His son finally passed the nickel after several days of parental anxiety about whether it would require surgery.
So the question then became what to do with it, and this is where Jernigan drove home his point about letting things go. He pulled out of his pocket a necklace … with a nickel on it. That nickel. And he put it on.
“As grossed out as you are right now with me wearing a nickel around my neck, it’s the same as the absurd image of you saying, ‘Because of my past, God cannot use me. No, look, I’m out because I’ve got this nickel.’ God’s going, ‘I don’t care. Let’s move on.’
“And if you see other people and you go, ‘Well, God’s not going to use you and I can’t really love you,’ God’s going, ‘Because of a nickel? Because of that? You’re going to let that hold you back?’
“Let me plead with you today. Let me encourage you today. Do not let a nickel hold you back from the incredible story God wants to tell in your life. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. … At whatever point you decide, ‘I want a different story,’ Jesus is ready for you.”
● For the replay of Jernigan’s talk, click here.
● Next Monday’s Chapel speaker: Ryan Buskirk, Young Life
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.