Beliefnet
Mark D. Roberts

Part 2 of series: Sharing Laity Lodge
Permalink for this post / Permalink for this series
As I mentioned in my last post, the Rev. Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie was the main speaker at a recent Laity Lodge retreat intended especially for leaders. If you’re not familiar with Lloyd Ogilvie, let me say that he was most recently the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. Before this, he was the Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood for twenty-three years. During this time he was my pastor, then my boss and my mentor. Lloyd Ogilvie has published more than fifty books and has preached in hundreds of churches and other venues. He continues to be one of the most influential Christian leaders in our country. Perhaps more importantly, he’s a man of deep faith, contagious love, and impeccable integrity. (Photo: yours truly flanked by two of my heroes, Lloyd Ogilvie on the right, and Howard E. Butt, Jr., founder of Laity Lodge, on the left. That’s some mighty fine company!)
Last week at Laity Lodge, Lloyd taught on the theme of reconciliation, focusing on the Reconciler, the reconciled, and the ministry of reconciliation. His overarching point was that reconciliation in all areas of life begins as we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. This frees us, not only to experience God’s presence and power each day, but also to become agents of reconciliation in our world.
Lloyd’s talks were filled with many illustrations of Christians who have been used by God to make a profound difference in the lives of people. One story impressed itself powerfully upon my mind. I’ll try to reproduce it here as best as I can.
One Sunday when Lloyd was Senior Pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, he awoke early because he wanted to go over his sermon a few more times. Before he left his home, he grabbed some bills from the top of his dresser so that he could buy a cup of coffee on the way to his study.
When Lloyd arrived at a convenience story near the church, he parked his car and got out. Suddenly, a group of men emerged from the darkness and surrounded him ominously. One of them said in a rough voice, “We want you to buy us some coffee.” Obviously this was not what Lloyd had planned to do with his time or his money. But he sensed the danger of the moment, and wanted to act with kindness even in this situation. So he counted the seven men who stood before him, and then counted the bills in his pocket. Luckily, or perhaps providentially, he had seven one-dollar bills, which he doled out to the men.
As they retreated into the shadows and Lloyd started to get back into his car without a cup of coffee, one of the man said, “Thanks, Dr. Ogilvie.” With a start, Lloyd realized that this man knew who he was.
Later that morning, this same man came to the worship service where Lloyd was preaching. After the service he came forward for prayer. He needed healing in his life in a desperate way, and found elders of the church who were willing to pray for and care for him. Lloyd felt grateful that he had fought off the temptation to deny the men the coffee that they had demanded. Perhaps God had used his kindness to make a real difference in the life of this one troubled individual.
Years later, when Lloyd was Chaplain of the Senate, he flew to Alaska to lead a prayer breakfast there. The morning of the breakfast, he awoke early to go to the venue and be sure everything was ready. As he emerged from the elevator, he faced an impeccably dressed man who was a leader of the prayer breakfast. This impressive man said to Lloyd: “Dr. Ogilvie, you don’t remember me. But years ago, some men and I asked you for coffee outside of the Seven-Eleven store. Your kindness got me to church that day, where God began to turn my life around. Now I’m a vice president of a radio station up here, and God is doing wonderful things in my life.”
I love this story, partly because, as a preacher, I can understand how bugged Lloyd must have been when the men approached him on that Sunday morning. If I needed a cup of coffee before hunkering down to work on my sermon, the last thing I’d appreciate is being distracted by some threatening men and giving away all of my money so I couldn’t buy a cup of coffee. I can also relate to the wonder of being used by God to make a difference in somebody’s life, even when I wasn’t all that happy about how it happened.
After Lloyd finished telling the story, he invited his friend Connie Mack, the former senator from Florida, to share a couple of recent examples of how God had used him to minister to hurting people. In both cases, a very busy Senator Mack allowed his plans to be derailed by the needs of people. His willingness to be available, both to people and to the Lord, made a real difference. He summed up both stories by saying, “There are no coincidences.” (Photo: Senator Connie Mack. Yes, he is related to the baseball star. He’s his grandson.)
Lloyd Ogilvie and Connie Mack are influential and highly successful people in the eyes of the world. Yet their stories of being used by God don’t depend for their success or their importance. They simply let God work in their lives, and He did the rest, marvelously so.
Perhaps God wants to use me today in ways I’m not expecting. Perhaps He wants to use you.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus