This from Brennan Manning
Carlton Hayes, a magnificently chiseled athlete in his early twenties, six-foot-three, 185 pounds, bounces on a trampoline flashing the irresistible Briteway smile. A crowd has gathered. He switches to skipping rope—a dazzling display of coordination, agility, and grace. The onlookers cheer. “Praise God,” the athlete shouts.
Meanwhile, Moe, one of his retinue of attendants, approaches with a glass of Gatorade. In his early fifties, Moe is five-foot-four and paunchy. He wears a rumpled suit, shirt open at the collar, tie askew. Moe has a thinning sliver of matted hair extending from his temples to the back of his head where it disappears in a clump of gray-black hair. The little attendant is unshaven. His bulbous jowls and one glass eye cause the spectators’ eyes to dart away.
“Pathetic little twerp,” one man says.
“Just an obsequious, star-struck hanger-on,” adds another.
Moe is neither. His heart is buried with Christ in the Father’s love. He moves unself-consciously through the crowd and extends the Gatorade gracefully to the hero. He is as comfortable as a hand in a glove with his servant role (that is how Jesus first revealed Himself to Moe and transformed his life). Moe feels safe with himself.
That night, Carlton Hayes will deliver the main address at the banquet of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, who are attending from all fifty states. He will also be honored with a Waterford crystal cup as the first eight-time Olympic gold medalist.
Five thousand people gather at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Glitterati from the worlds of politics, sports, and show business are scattered throughout the room. As Hayes steps to the podium, the crowd is just finishing a sumptuous meal. The speaker’s address abounds with references to the power of Christ and unabashed gratitude to God. Hearts are touched; men and women weep unashamedly, then give a standing ovation.
But behind the glossy delivery, Carlton’s vacant stare reveals that his words do not inhabit his soul. Stardom has eroded his presence with Jesus. Intimacy with God has faded into the distance. The whispering of the Spirit has been drowned out by deafening applause. Buoyed by success and the roar of the crowd, the Olympic hero moves easily from table to table. He ingratiates himself with everyone—from the waiters to the movie stars.
Back at the Red Roof Inn, Moe eats his frozen TV dinner alone. He was not invited to the banquet at the Ritz-Carlton because, quite honestly, he just wouldn’t fit in. Surely it wouldn’t be fitting for a pot-bellied, glass-eyed, twerpy attendant to pull up a chair with the likes of Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Moe sits down at the table in his room and closes his eyes.
The love of the crucified Christ surges within him. His eyes fill with tears. “Thank You, Jesus,” he whispers, as he peels the plastic top off his microwaved lasagna. He flips to Psalm 23 in his Bible.
I was in the dream, too. Where did I choose to spend that evening?
My eyes fell on a passage in 2 Corinthians: “From now onwards, therefore, we do not judge anyone by the standards of the flesh” (5:16).
When we look, what do we see?