Mount Vernon Place last night even though I'm on sabbatical. I noticed a tweet at 5:32 p.m. informing me that my mentor and hero Peter Storey would be using the Sunday evening session to talk about Nelson Mandela. With a pilgrimage to South Africa just four weeks away, I knew hearing Peter talk about former President Mandela was something I did not want to miss - something that would make my heart sing.
Peter spent an hour telling us about Mandela's place of birth, early years of life and his time as a political prisoner on Robben Island before sharing more about Mandela's mark on South Africa. There are dozens of stories written down in my journal told by Peter last evening - stories I don't want to forget.
One story that keeps surfacing in my heart provoked tears in the eyes of many who listened last night. Peter shared how it was once discovered that one of Mandela's bodyguards was a member of a racist Nazi group. People went to the President with fear for his life, advising him to please fire the young man or at least remove him from such close detail. Peter shared how the President thought for a few moments before responding. "You know, I was once a hot-headed young man, too. Give the young guard a chance. Tell him I believe in him. Tell him I trust him."
Tell him I believe in him. Tell him I trust him.
No doubt these words changed the life and heart of the young guard. Can you imagine your dirt being aired - the feelings of hatred within you being exposed - only to discover that the one you were taught to hate actually believed in you - trusted you - wanted you as part of his team?
I wonder how often God seeks to say the same thing to us?
How often are we allowed to be part of something that we do not deserve?
When have we been given a second chance in spite of ourselves or the hatred and revenge burning within us?
When does God see our very best and expose it to all around us even when we're rather ugly on the inside?
What an amazing life Nelson Mandela has shared with the world.
And what an amazing God we have who calls us, claims us and names us...in spite of ourselves.