God used Redeemer to draw me to him and eventually succumb to his truth and grace and love. I first came to Redeemer in 1989 at the invitation of Lorraine P., a work colleague who’d been hounding me for a year or two. I had rejected and been inoculated against everything to do with the Christian faith 20 years earlier.
I was both put off by and drawn to the people I met at Redeemer – put off by their prudishness and drawn to their passion. I met with Tim Keller and told him that no intelligent person would believe in heaven. He told me not to worry about it; that God would give me what I needed to know. I didn’t want to give up my Sunday mornings, my sex life, my bawdy sense of humor, or “control” over my own life. It took several years of wrestling with God over his rules, his promises, his judgments, his so-called people, and his alleged grace – which I didn’t think I needed.
My friend MaryAnn D. was the first person to pray with me. Another friend, Yvonne D., roped me into helping with the first Comedy Night. And another, Alan K., told me to quit whining about everything I’d be giving up and just accept Jesus! Tim Keller repeatedly undermined my belief systems from the pulpit and caused me to question. Every Sunday he invited me to a simple prayer, “God, if you are real, please let me know.” I couldn’t have prayed any other prayer.
I’d never have passed today’s version of the membership interview, but Tim was interviewing then and he let me in on seeing tiny glimpses of God at work. I’d been a non-joiner for years and I needed to join…to make that concrete step toward God. I finally understood “grace” conceptually in 1992. I had a scare with my vocal chords. Lora G., a friend from Redeemer, insisted on going to the biopsy with me; I told her I knew I deserved throat cancer after smoking cigarettes for 20 years. I was imagining life with a voice box. But it wasn’t cancer. For the first time I got a glimpse of this idea of grace – I didn’t get what I deserved. What a concept!
Eventually I made the decision to submit to God. It wasn’t an “experience” – I wouldn’t have trusted that – it was a head thing. I wanted God to be as big as Tim said he was; I wanted a gospel that could change everything – from my heart to the entire world.
I wanted God to be as big as Tim said he was; I wanted a gospel that could change everything – from my heart to the entire world.
A few months later my boss was diagnosed with a brain tumor and I was asked to take over the company. That launched a decade of trying to figure out what it meant to be a gospel-centered leader in business. I remember worrying to a fellow Redeemerite, Tom W., that I’d not wanted to be a leader and he gave me memorable advice: no one wants to be led by someone who just wants to be the leader; God gives us leadership roles for his purposes; it’s what you’re doing, it’s not who you are. Redeemer taught the importance of living out our faith in our work as a way to express our God-given gifts and a chance to serve God’s larger kingdom purposes. I had to work out the practical details of that on my own, as my work moved me from NYC to Luxembourg and then to the Bay Area in California.
In 2002 when Terry Gyger and Tim Keller invited me back to NYC to start a marketplace ministry, I said, “yes,” out of gratefulness for all that Redeemer had given me. But that was only the beginning. The last 12 years of serving the church in this ministry has been one of seeing God create something wonderful before my very eyes. I’ve learned so much more about God and myself. I’ve gotten to see the gospel at work in the lives of many people. I love Redeemer and all the people who created it and have sustained it over the years.
Thank you, God!