Faith for Life's Journey I(29/12/01)
By Dr. Robert
So well today I am
having an interesting experience at this stage of life. And as
I've just finished my autobiography I've been asked to do it for
many years, many publishers have approached me, tried to coerce
me but I never wanted to do it. And Matt Lauer on The Today Show
the other morning said, "Dr. Schuller, why have you never wanted
to write your autobiography before?" And I said, "Matt, for one
simple reason. I build buildings and I wouldn't take a picture
of a building until the building was finished. Surely not before
the roof was on and the landscaping is there. Go ahead, I can
tell them the story now." At any rate, here it is, the title of
my autobiography is, "My Journey."
And the lesson that
I want to share with you today is very simple. My journey has
had its share of bruises and blessings. To all of you, if you're
living a journey, especially I talk to the young people: please
listen to me. If you're a young person set your face to a journey
that will honor God and make the world a more beautiful place,
but expect bruises and expect blessings. Understand one thing:
God does not send the bruises but He sends the blessings.
My journey has had
its shares of bruises but always there have been the blessings.
And I think now at the age of 75, Deuteronomy 12:7 is a Bible
verse I wrote down here. "And you shall rejoice in all into which
you have put your hand. You and your household which the Lord
your God has blessed you." Wow! I rejoice at everything I have
put my hand to. And my household with me. The Lord our God has
blessed us. I've been blessed. Somebody said to me, "But Schuller,
what are your bruises?" Well, I'm not going to tell you about
all of my bruises. I shared some of them, most of them, in my
previous book, which preceded this as my last book, "Turn Your
Hurts into Halos." And many of you have read the book or you can
read it if you want to.
But on this morning
I want to tell for the first time in public the deepest bruise
I ever suffered and how I got through it. You all know I was 4
years, 11 months old when Uncle Henry said you're going to be
a preacher. Wow! I told my dad, mother - they were thrilled. And
only a month later I went to school, started in the 1st grade,
no kindergarten, and I was ecstatic. I was jubilant. Wow! Because
my dad and my mother and my older brother and the 3 older sisters
all made a lot to do over me. I mean, when I talked they all listened.
I think I may have been a spoiled kid. I don't know. I won't admit
that. But I got to school knowing I was somebody. I was going
to be a preacher and I remember the first day in school. It was
a one-room country school; there were 17 students from 1st grade
through 8th grade. And the 7 of us in the 1st grade sat in the
front row for our lesson. And the teacher said, "Okay, what do
you want to be when you grow up?" And all of the kids were blank
and I was waving my hand. She said, "Just a minute, Robert. We're
doing this alphabetically. Geneva Corver comes before Robert Schuller."
So I had to wait, nervously. Waiting. Geneva didn't know what
she was going to be. And then she got to me, "Okay, Robert, now
you want to tell us. What are you going to be when you grow up?"
I said, "I'm going to be a preacher." She said, "Really?" "Yeah."
And then I looked at all the other kids in the 1st grade cause
I wanted to see their admiring glances. Or maybe they would applaud
me. But they were just sitting there like this. They weren't even
listening. They were not impressed. What a turn off! But that
wasn't a bruise but it was setting me up for a bruise.
It wasn't long and
the teacher said, "Okay, it's time for recess." And I said to
the kid, "What's that?" "Well then we all go outdoors and play."
"Oh." And she let us all 17 out on the playground. And she had
a ball in her hand and a bat. I'd never seen a baseball bat before
in my life. I'd never seen a baseball or a softball before in
my life. And she picked the 2 tall boys, Eddie and Leroy Rose,
8th graders, big guys. She said, "Eddie and Leroy, you guys choose
up sides." I said, "What does that mean - choose up sides?" "Oh,"
he said, "we're going to play ball. They pick the best kids until
everybody's chosen except the last one and then the last one that
isn't chosen goes to the other side." "Oh." "Listen, I don't want
to be the last one. I want to be chosen." He said, "I don't think
you have to worry because even if it came down to you and Geneva
Corver is there." "And they'd pick Geneva before you so she's
going to be the one that'll be the last one." So, this is what
I looked like. Dressed just like that. I'm optimistic. I'm hopeful.
Finally got down to only 4 that hadn't been chosen, then they
got down to 2, and the last 2 that were not chosen was Geneva
Corver and Robert Schuller. But I'm feeling pretty good. Thank
God I'm not a girl. Poor Geneva. And then Leroy looked at the
2 of us, Leroy Rose, it was his turn to pick, and he said, "I
pick her." That wasn't bad but the way I felt it should have been
deeper than that.
And I can still feel
the feeling. I was not wanted by anybody. I was rejected by both
sides and I had to go to that side and they had to take me even
though they didn't pick me and didn't want me. I think that was
the deepest bruise I ever received in my life. But tomorrow would
be another day. So tomorrow recess happened again, choose up sides,
the same story. Down to Geneva and Robert and guess who they picked
this time? Geneva. I had to play so I played. I got a chance to
run. I don't remember how in the world I ever got on base but
I do remember running from one base to another and stumbling and
falling and everybody laughing and making fun of me. Not only
was I rejected, I was ridiculed. I still can remember that. Shocking.
And I said to the teacher alone, "Why don't they pick me? Why
don't they want me? Why do they laugh at me?" The teacher said,
"Well, (my name then was Harold. That's part of the story.) She
said, "Harold, you know you don't run very fast. And Harold, you
are fat. You know that." I had never heard that word before. Totally
new word. Fat. Rejected. Nobody wants me. I have no value to anybody.
Chapter. This past
Wednesday night I was invited to preach in the Marble Collegiate
Church in New York City. The whole downstairs was full of people
that had come just to hear me and meet me. And when I walked up
those steps and stood in that pulpit in the middle, I had a job
to keep from crying. Because that's where I was healed of my negative
self image, my low self-esteem. I was born at the dead end of
a dirt road that had no name and it had no number and I was from
Iowa. That's not the way to win prestige among the elite in New
Then there came a time,
38 years ago, and this church was starting to grow and I got a
letter from Norman Vincent Peale, who at that time was like the
Protestant Pope of America, the single most prominent clergyman
of the day, serving in the most prestigious church in the United
States, the Marble Collegiate Church in New York, which started
in 1628 with 54 Dutch colonists, commissioned by the Queen of
the Netherlands. And he was the head pastor and here I'm in a
drive-in theater and I get a letter from him saying, "I want to
invite you to come and preach in the Marble Collegiate Church."
Gosh! And this week I went back and what a great crowd welcomed
me. And I stood in that little place and remembered. I remembered
how nobody wanted me at the playground. I remembered how Norman
Peale saw something in me and believed in me when nobody else
did. And when somebody believes in you and nobody else does, you
never forget that. That's why many of you have a healthy self-esteem.
You probably didn't get it from your dad or your mom or where
you were born or how you grew up. You got it from a teacher, a
schoolteacher, a 1st grade teacher, or maybe an 8th grade teacher,
or a high school teacher, or a preacher, or a priest, or a rabbi.
And when I stood at that place the Marble Collegiate Church has
not changed. They're so close to where the towers collapsed, at
29th Street and 5th Avenue, gosh! But they didn't lose a single
member. Unbelievable. All of their members that worked in those
towers either didn't go to work that day or they were late for
work that day or they were rescued by firemen. So, I had a tough
time controlling my emotions. To say to them, "You gave me the
greatest gift I could ever get. And that is a healing from the
bruise on the playground of a country school when I was only 5
Now that bruise became
a blessing. Only God could have planned it that attractively.
I had been consumed by the passion to take my life's ministry,
from beginning until the end, and use it to encourage people and
tell them they're terrific. Thank you. And I learned something
and that is it's when you meet somebody that you look up and you
admire and you respect and you know that this person is at the
top and you're at the bottom. If he treats you like you're at
the top with him, oh man! Now I offer that to you when I ask you
to get acquainted with Jesus Christ. He's alive. Read the Bible.
Go to a Bible class. Talk to Him. How do you talk to Him? Well,
alone. Just talk to Him. He's there. He'll hear you. And He treats
you like you're as good as He is and you know that He knows what
you are at your worst, and He treats you as if you're the best.
Now that's the blessing that heals the bruise of a low self-esteem.
You know I want to
thank all of you who've done so much for America these days. But
especially, I want to thank you, Carl Everts. I was here at the
church the other day and one of my staff persons, Jim Coleman,
said, "You know there's a fellow in the church with a couple of
friends. He came from New York. He was a paramedic. Got the call
immediately when the tower was struck and drove to it and he worked
30 days, 15 hours a day. And so he and a couple of hundred others
were given a special vacation. They needed it. And the others
I think went to Florida but he wanted to come to California. He
wanted to come to the Crystal Cathedral. We're very, very honored
by that. And Carl, I want you to come up here because I want to
see your hands. I just want to see your hands. Just come on up
CE: Thank you, sir.
RHS: You too. You may
sit down. "Where was God when it all happened?" I said, "Oh my
God! Can't you see? Can't you see the firemen running in there?
Didn't you see the policemen? Didn't you see these people with
their hands in the blood and the dirt and the dust?" And many
never came out. Many were like Jesus Christ who...Jesus spent
His whole life like a fireman to save souls until He went back
in for a last time knowing He wouldn't come out and that was on
a cross. These 2 hands have been the hands of God, Carl. Your
mind was given to God. Your heart was given to God and He needed
hands and you said, "Lord, use them." Thank you. Thank you. And
may God bless you where you need the blessing most. He knows that
better than us. And may God take the memories that you will live
with all your life, they will be emotional bruises in many cases,
but they'll turn into blessings. Right?
RHS: When you
were driving your car fast and you saw the towers collapse, I
find that very interesting when people say, "What did you do?"
CE: I stepped
on the brakes.
RHS: And you were saved.
CE: Yes, sir.
RHS: Why did you want to come here? Did you know us from television?
CE: Many years.
RHS: In New York. CE: Yes.
RHS: I make you an honorary member of this church.
CE: Thank you very much, Sir.
RHS: You're welcome. You're welcome. We love your smile and I
love these strong hands.
CE: I owe it all to my wife. RHS: Thank you. Thank you. Thank
And now go out, don't
be surprised if you have a bruise, but then if you do, get ready
for the blessing. The 23rd Psalm has these words: "Surely goodness
and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Surely, not
hopefully, not predictably, not maybe, not possibly but surely,
surely goodness shall follow me all the days of my life. Goodness
and mercy. Oh there will be the time when you will be hurt. It
may be much more than a bruise. Then what. And if you can't experience
the goodness of God and you pray and nothing seems to happen,
get ready. He will come. He will kiss you and the two of you will
dance. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.
The bruises will always be followed by a blessing. You say, I
don't know, Dr. Schuller. It happened a long time ago and it's
still there. When you get to be 75 years old, and you haven't
found the blessing after the bruise, you come and see me. Give
God time. I'm being blessed after some bruises that are 30 years
old today. It's amazing.
Eternal Father, strong
to save, Whose arm has bound the restless wave, Who bids the mighty
ocean deep its own appointed limits keep. O hear when we cry to
Thee, for those in peril on the sea.
O Trinity of love and
power, your children shield in danger's hour; from rock and tempest
fire and foe, protect them wheresoever they go. Thus evermore
shall rise to Thee glad praise from air and land and sea. Glad
praise from air and land and sea. Amen!