Your faith is like a show of hands, Garcia tells Chapel
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Part of the Bible’s perfection is that it is filled with imperfect characters doing God’s work.
Imagine if Peter had operated like a skilled CEO, with nary a slipup, from the moment Jesus chose him to lead the church. Think about how antiseptic those letters to distant lands would have seemed if Paul had been a buttoned-down accountant with impeccable honesty, not a tax collector.
Would their message have been as authentic? And would they have gotten the same results?
Today, the brilliance of God’s plan is reflected once more every time a speaker comes to Chapel at Grand Canyon University and tells of a past filled with misdeeds, followed by a calling that could only be heaven sent.
The latest one was Noe Garcia, pastor of North Phoenix Baptist Church and former drug and alcohol abuser — in sixth grade. His story of growing up in the streets of inner-city Houston and then being saved is the modern-day version of Peter and Paul, just a lot messier. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
“I was so lost and I was so hopeless and I was so broken, I just gave myself to the world and said, ‘Here,’” Garcia told the Monday morning audience. “I became a prostitute to the world, letting the world use me however it wanted to use me.”
And oh how it did. His life continued to spiral out of control until November 2002, when he was 18. He recalled how he sat in his backyard, his body filled with toxins, his heart filled with pain, and tried to commit suicide. That fateful failure, piled on top of the others, was his clarion call to start listening to God.
Was it smooth sailing from there? Of course not! As Garcia put it, “I thought things were going to get easier. Anyone else thought that? When you first gave your life to Christ, you thought squirrels were going to run up your arm, birds were going to chirp on your shoulder.”
Garcia gave his life to God on a Friday, two days before he was supposed to move into an apartment with his girlfriend of four years. He heeded God’s call to end the immoral relationship, but even that didn’t set him straight, he said — he still tried to bounce back and forth between a life of partying and a life of prayer, and, inevitably, prayer was losing.
“I could not date sin and expect to be intimate with God,” he said.
Finally, Garcia realized that while he had strayed, God never had. “His love was constant,” Garcia said. “He didn’t have this on or off switch. His love was constant for me, even when I was in my lowest of times.”
The Bible story that was most meaningful for him was from the Old Testament. Hosea was commanded by God to save a prostitute from her sinful lifestyle by marrying her, then bring her back when she strayed again.
We think we’re like Hosea, Garcia said. Wrong.
“You and I are the spiritual prostitutes who keep running from God into the things of this world over and over and over again,” he said. “But here’s the beautiful picture: God, in His love, keeps pursuing you and me because He loves us so much that He goes into the streets, He goes when we are at our worst, He goes when we are giving ourselves out to the world, and He meets us just where we’re at. … That kind of love, you can’t earn and you can’t buy.”
Garcia told a moving story of how his young son once used a Sharpie to mark up the glass on the sliding back door, then denied it when confronted by Dad. Taking his son’s ink-stained hands in his, Garcia felt God’s guidance and saw the correlation between what a toddler had done and how we, too, bring God our dirty hands every day.
The key, Garcia said, is to recognize that. The key is to “give Him your dirty hands” and to vow to leave an immoral lifestyle behind.
“A moment of pleasure for humanity always leads to a lifetime of pain, but the enemy wants to entice us to think that you need this right now to feel who you are, to satisfy who you are,” Garcia said. “And the results are always the same – brokenness and destruction.”
Take it from someone who knows. From imperfection comes a perfect message, heaven sent.
● To see a replay of Garcia’s talk, click here.
● Next Monday’s speaker is Riccardo Stewart of Redemption Church.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.