I thank God for the life of Robert Schuller who passed away last week at the age of 88. Yes, I realize that his theology stirred up controversy for some. Others lament the way Crystal Cathedral Ministries ended. But I still thank God for Robert Schuller and here is the reason why....
When I was twelve years old, in 1975, living in Southern California, my family did not regularly attend worship services in any church. However, I did watch church on television with my mother. And one of the people we watched was Robert Schuller. I will never forget the Sunday he preached on forgiveness. Suddenly, I understood for the first time in my life that Jesus died on the cross for me so that I could be forgiven of my sin. I still remember some of Schuller's illustrations and sayings like: "When God buries the axe he doesn't leave the handle sticking above ground." I received Jesus into my life in a personal way that Sunday. I received God's love and forgiveness. Suddenly, I felt free. And what I received that Sunday determined the course of my life. I have given my life to Christian ministry. It has been my desire since that day to communicate the love of Jesus Christ to as many people as I possibly can.
When Schuller decided to build the Crystal Cathedral I thought it was a great dream. I decided I wanted to be part of it. I saved my allowance every week and in time I was able to give a thousand dollars to have two windows placed in that Cathedral. And they are there to this day and that Cathedral will continue to be used for Christian ministry. For that, I praise God.
Shortly after receiving Christ on that Sunday morning, we moved to a new neighborhood. Down the street there lived a boy my age. Sometimes he would follow me home from school. I remember one day when he and his friend followed me home, calling me names, and pitching little stones at me. I tried my best to ignore him. But somehow, in time, Jeff and I met on "neutral turf" so to speak, and we became friends. How that happened I do not remember. But I do remember learning that Jeff watched Robert Schuller on television just as I did. We could recite the Possibility Thinkers' Creed together:
When faced with a mountain
I will not quit!
I will keep on striving
until I climb over,
find a pass through,
or simply stay and
turn the mountain
into a gold mine
with God's help.
Jeff invited me to go with him to youth group at his church one Sunday. The group was going roller skating. I did not want to do that. My mother urged me to go, but I refused. Then Jeff invited me again and I went. At that first meeting the youth group had a new youth pastor whom I liked very much. I attended from then on, not only youth group but Sunday morning services as well. Eventually, the rest of my family joined me at church. I have been involved in the Church and ministry ever since. At one point during my college years I even received training in counseling through the Crystal Cathedral.
So I am thankful for the life and ministry of Robert Schuller. I am grateful for the fact that he pointed me to Jesus Christ. May he rest in peace and rise in glory!