Recently I heard a replay of the wonderful story from Mike Adkins on Focus on the Family radio: A Man Called Norman Part I and A Man Called Norman Part II. It’s wonderful to hear how Mike was obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit to reach this man who had been downtrodden both by his life circumstances and by other people over the years.
Two thoughts came to me while I listened to this broadcast for the first time since the late 1980’s. First, I think that there are other ‘Normans’ around us that God wants to reach. It’s evident that God had the ear of Mike Adkins enough to draw his attention to this man to love him into the kingdom of God. God also broke down much of the pride of Mike during this time to get him to do some very humble tasks in the path of Christlike servanthood. Perhaps many of us who have heard this broadcast and find the tears in our own eyes need to pray for God rather to open our own eyes to those who are like Norman around us. It’s also evident from the broadcast that God also used this path of servanthood to prepare Mike for many other opportunities for ministry ahead of him as well. It may be that those among us who are wondering why God does not use us more need to have a Norman among us to show the love of Christ first, without regard to our pride or reputation.
The second thought that came to me was how extremely patient and compassionate Mike was with Norman. It doesn’t seem that he ever treated him with one ounce of superiority, criticism, disdain or contempt. As I listened, I wondered how many of the Christian men that I’ve known over my life would have treated him with that kind of compassion and patience. While over the course of time it became apparent how Norman came to be the man he was when Mike met him, it does not look like Mike treated his past problems as a matter for gossip, mockery or ridicule before others, such as, “ <snicker> <snicker> You know what Norman did? You’ll never guess what I found out about Norman.” I honestly wonder how many Christian men that I’ve known would ever have humbled themselves to clean Norman’s bathroom and his toilet in the way that Mike did. Yet I think that if Jesus had been here physically, he would have done exactly what Mike did. But I can imagine many of the Christian men that I’ve known over the years avoiding Norman, mocking him when with their buddies, or finding something else to do if someone had asked them to help with work on Norman’s bathroom.
It is also true that all of us are like Norman – broken people with hurts, pain, disappointments, betrayals, and blind spots. All of us who are believers in Christ are likewise called to be more like Mike with each other when we see others around us who may be like a Norman in one way or another. There is no one among us who has not come from the ultimate dysfunctional family – that of Adam and Eve. But if it’s true that we’ve been received into the new family of those who are in Christ, we’re called to treat the Normans among us – which is each one of us at one time or another – with compassion and patience in the path of Christlike servanthood.
“And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else” (I Thessalonians 5:14-15),
All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.