Pastor Joe Gale, Calvary Chapel Fernley
In November of 2010, on Wednesday of Thanksgiving Week, I was preparing to preach through the amazing book of Revelation beginning in January of 2011. I was mildly overwhelmed by the sea of theories, theorems, doctrinal definitions, systems of interpretation, general interpretations and applications available. I realized it was an ocean of confusion, and the more I studied the words of man, the more confused I became. Also, at the same time my mother was dying from a rare form of cancer 3,000 miles away in New Jersey, and all who loved her knew, her time was growing very short.
My conversations with her over the years were mostly while driving from one place to another and this morning was no different. So on that Wednesday, I was driving to Reno to complete some errands and I was talking to her as we approached the Painted Rock exit. Cell conversations were in their infancy at the time and she was very used to the when and wheres of the drop outs on the various routes at that time. Joking often about getting dropped out by that ‘rock’, as my carrier at the time dropped nearly all of my calls as I turned the first corner at the Painted Rock exit. But this time, this call, was different. As I entered the freeway, I was talking to her about my struggle organizing Revelation for the series of sermons I would eventually preach from it, and we were talking about it. In her matter of fact way, she asked me if I was able to set aside all of my ‘education’, ‘doctrines’, ‘denominational theology’ and all that ‘stuff’. I said, ‘I could try.’ She said, ‘When you get back from doing your errands, just read it and listen and ‘Let the Book talk and just keep it simple’.’ So, I promised to give it a try.
As I crossed the Truckee River and approached the ‘Rest Stop’ on the way to Reno the conversation became more serious about her cancer and other matters. It was then as I approached ‘the drop out’ at Painted Rock, she told me she was ‘tired’, so not to call her back after the called dropped. I told her, I’d call her the next day, she told me, ‘No Joey, I am tired.’ I suddenly understood what that meant. The called dropped and that was the last conversation I ever had with my Mother. She slipped in and out of a sleep all day on Thanksgiving and entered into a coma for the final time on Friday. She never regained consciousness and went to be with her Lord 22 days later. But her final simple, yet powerful, words of advice have lived on and transformed my life and thinking and preaching.
The purpose of this story was what I gained from her beautiful and simple understanding of what is the true relationship available to us by placing our simple faith in Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation. My mother came to faith in Christ while pregnant for me in the mid-1950s. She developed a lifelong relationship with Him over the next 50 plus years. She was intelligent and wise; however, those traits never entered her relationship with Him. It remained simple and childlike and beautiful. As simple as it was when she was a pregnant mother of four at age 22.
Her last words, “Let the Book talk and just keep it simple” have transitioned this university and seminary trained, and classically ordained pastor’s thinking ever since. The Lord isn’t about complexity; however, the ego of man certainly wants it to be, the confusion causing complexity created by ‘great thinkers’ who need to ‘put their mark on the world’ needs to be reduced and eliminated. I have begun to believe with each Doctorate earned the beautiful simplicity of our relationship with Lord is further lost. If it was the case that the complexity needed to continually increase the Lord would have called ‘The Learned’ leaders as His disciples and apostles, they were available but He didn’t. Our relationship with the Lord isn’t worldly, but the world with their misapplications and misunderstandings would have been where He came and called. I love hearing ‘atheists’ or even ‘agnostics’ proclaim of their great knowledge and understanding of ‘things of the Lord’. To know the Lord IS to love Him. You can’t really know Him and really understand Him and not love Him. So, I don’t place my faith in the ‘great knowledge’ of the world. I could continue the illustration; however, I looked to those He called, to take His message of love and hope to the world, it is very possible that over 75 percent of his disciples and apostles were fisherman.
Had I remained ‘home’ and ‘continued’ in the family business, I would have been the seventh generation of Gale New Jersey Watermen (or fisherman) since the 1760s. They were not men of great academic understanding, as far as myself and other family historians can gather, my generation marked the first High School and College graduates, but they, The Gale Fisherman of ‘the Mystic Islands’, were wise men of great common sense. The Lord brought His message to be shared by men like this, the Common Man, so He brought a message the Common Man would understand and apply to be delivered by Common Men. The message is a simply message of faith; not a complex message of competing theologies and doctrines.
Therefore, seeking simplicity has been my goal for nearing seven years. To know the joy of just ‘Letting His Word, the Bible’ speak to me, and through me. My goal is to unravel what men who know the Lord, and men who do not, have done to complicate the simple and make its application nearly impossible. It has been a wonderful journey that only continues to unfold greater blessings.
So, today, see for yourself, find your Bible, if you don’t have one, drop by Calvary Chapel, I’ll loan you one, or give you one, and if you find you are able, just find the time to clear your mind of your presuppositions and prejudices and just listen to the simple message from an uncomplicated Savior and let it change your life as it has changed mine. The theology of wisdom has stolen the beautiful application of all He has left us.