God Loves Cleveland

Most NBA players wear dapper suits to the game. But before tonight’s Cleveland Cavs win over the Milwaukee Bucks, shooting guard Mike Miller wore a T-shirt that said, “God loves Cleveland.” And he’s right. What a good shirt. I will try and apprehend one for myself. These things come out of the strangest places, but Mike Miller’s pre-game vestments remind me of something important – God is there, and to quote Francis Schaeffer, he is not silent. 

When Marci and I were praying about whether to plant a church, where to go, and how to get there, we seemed to see references to Cleveland everywhere. We saw ads for a coffee shop in Memphis called the Cleveland Café, someone hit a home run in Miami on TV into a restaurant called The Clevelander, and Major League never seemed to leave obscure evening cable programming. I don’t know what this was, or how it ultimately helped move us forward – it did work, and ultimately I believe it solidified what I knew already – the city’s history, it’s people’s lives, families, and stories all are foreign to me, but not foreign to God.

While I was playing cup ball with other six-year-olds past the fence at my brother’s Little League game, faithful men were in Cleveland starting churches, and a hundred and another hundred years before that, Christians were worshiping God in that town.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

This is not the part of the show where I confirm that I’m a tiny water drop in the great sea of the ages, while that is true, God has called individuals and their particular gifts to his work in his kingdom. Notice all the genealogies in the Bible, the lists of people in positions of power and influence – God loves people. He names names. Look at the close of Paul’s letters – he doesn’t forget the individuals who have done work in the church and have remained faithful companions, he honors them by name. I’m happy to have my name on a list, it’s a long list, but the best one, because next to the plaque it shall read, ‘friend of Jesus.’ I don't know if Mike Miller loves God, but there were people at that game who do. And there were a lot of people who don't yet know him. Cleveland needs the Lord. Cleveland needs you. 

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” Isaiah 43:10