What just happened? A mesmerizing Chapel talk

Jodi Hickerson of Mission Church in Ventura, California, told Chapel on Monday that Jesus will welcome us wherever we are in life.

Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau

Jodi Hickerson was talking passionately in Chapel on Monday morning at Grand Canyon University about how Jesus has changed so many lives, including hers.

It happened over and over while He was on earth. It continues today. And it gave Hickerson, Teaching Pastor and Programming Director for Mission Church in Ventura, California, reason to ask a simple question:

“Have you ever had one of those moments where you can’t believe what just happened happened?”

She ran through some of the miracles He performed, playfully suggesting that He fed 5,000 people with a Happy Meal and recounting how He commanded the raging waters of the sea to be still. Each time, she imagined the disciples looking at each other and saying, “OK, that just happened.”

It was Hickerson’s way of getting into the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, which takes up most of the Gospel of John, Chapter 4. It was another “that just happened” moment that Jesus employed to demonstrate what He will do for each one of us if we just let Him in.

“We have a Savior who is ready to meet you in the middle of your mess …” she said. “That’s our Jesus. That’s His track record. That’s His reputation.

“And He will do that for any and all of us, myself included. No one is too far gone. I used to think I couldn’t get in with Jesus because of the decisions I had made in my own life and my own shame. But when you look at the life of Jesus, it’s so different.”

What came next had her GCU Arena audience unsure whether to applaud or just sit in wonderment and admire how she could rattle off this poetry with such brilliant timing.

This just happened, amid intermittent approving claps:

Hickerson's poetic way of proclaiming her message was the highlight of her talk.

"Jesus met people like me.

He took notice of a blind man and made him see.

Saw a locked-up kid and set him free.

Told little Zaccheus to get out of the tree.

He felt it when a desperate woman touched His cloak.

Kneeled beside a dead girl and up she woke.

Hung out with the down-and-out and broke.

Offered hope to the forgotten with just the words that He spoke.

He touched a man with leprosy that others would mock.

Touched the mouths of the mute and at once they could talk.

Forgave a woman at a well who was the laughingstock.

Came to be a shepherd of a wandering flock.

In the company of sinners, that’s where He would eat.

Defended an adulterer, made her accusers retreat.

Made followers out of men who were crooked cheats.

The basis of Hickerson's talk was the story of the Samaritan woman meeting Jesus at the well.

Let the tears of a prostitute anoint His feet.

And, suddenly, dramatically, undeniably they were in.

In His story.

In His truth.

In His grace.

In His purpose.

In His eyes.

Someone great.

And I have wanted to be in.

And since the day I met with Him.

He took all that I had been.

All my fear, my shame, my sin.

And changed my life by letting … me … in.

That’s our Jesus!"

The crowd, realizing that the poem finally was over, let loose with longer, more sustained applause. It was as if the students were saying, "Phew! That was something."

Madison Russell sings with the Worship team before Hickerson took the stage.

But Hickerson was far from done. She described in intricate detail the Samaritan woman’s consternation as Jesus asked her questions and then revealed all the things He knew about her, telling her she would never be thirsty if she drank the living water He was offering.

“Jesus is talking about so much more than water,” Hickerson said.

Hickerson noted that the Samaritan woman had her own “that just happened” moment when Jesus told her He was the Messiah, resulting in the remarkable transformation detailed in John 4:39:

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

We can follow their lead, or we can try to fill our deepest needs with quick fixes – substance abuse, rushed intimacy or being consumed with image or control or approval.

“We end up thirsty again,” Hickerson said.

She reminded her listeners of the words in Jeremiah 2:13 …

“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken Me,
    the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

… and of what is offered in Psalm 130:7:

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with Him is full redemption.

The words the Worship team sang were a precursor to Hickerson's message.

But Hickerson had one more staccato-like passage to share as she talked about the full redemption Jesus offers. This time, she demonstrated what He has done for so many famous people in the Bible:

“I’m telling you right now, if you let Him, He can transform your test into a testimony, your mess into a message and your misery into a ministry. It is all over Scripture. Time and time again, God chose unlikely people to bring about amazing good.

“Noah got drunk, and Abraham was too old, and Jacob was a liar, and Joseph was abused and abandoned, and Moses had a speech impediment, and Gideon was afraid, and Rahab was a prostitute.

“David had an affair, and then he murdered somebody to cover it up. Jonah ran from God. John the Baptist was flat-out weird. And Martha worried too much. And Paul persecuted the church. And Peter denied knowing Jesus. And Lazarus was dead.

“And still Jesus said, ‘You.’ I’ve got plans for you. I’ve got a purpose for you. I want to use … your … life.”

More applause. And then a final message from Hickerson:

“Man, if you’re sitting here thinking about broken promises and rebellion and all the mistakes you’ve made and how you’ve got to get life back together on your own first before you can ever go to God, don’t believe that lie because Jesus can redeem any life.

“And today or tonight or this week, as you turn to Jesus, whenever you do that, it can be a ‘that just happened’ moment for you. And if it is, it won’t be the last because doing life with Jesus is ongoing transformation where over and over we’re like, ‘Whoa, did that just happen?’”

Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].


To hear the music of the Worship team and Jodi Hickerson’s talk in its entirety, click here.


The Gathering (7 p.m. Tuesday, Antelope Gymnasium): Worship Night

Next Chapel speaker (11 a.m. Monday): Brian Hommel, Unlimited Potential


Related content:

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GCU Today: Campus returns to full schedule of worship services

GCU Today: Jesus fishes for us, and it's not catch-and-release

GCU Today: Dyer urges students to hit 'go' on mission work

GCU Today: Musical Worship Chapel sparks a moving experience

GCU Today: Don't repeat Samson's mistakes -- watch your steps


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GCU Magazine

Bible Verse

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/