past weeks I've been sharing with you stories from my new
book released recently. It's my autobiography which carries
a simple title, My Journey.
It is an incredible story because I believe that my life
was a gift. I didn't ask to be born. I was given opportunities
and possibilities that I didn't ask for. And I'm sure that
if you look back on the
positive accomplishments of your
life you will probably come to the same conclusion that I
have. At my age of 75, I think I haven't done anything.
I just showed up for work. I did what I had to do. As someone
once said, "It's amazing what you can do with your
life if you just show up."
I wrote my book I remembered journeys that I'd forgotten.
When I stop to think of all the trips that I've taken, my
goodness, I've had some risky ones. The scariest trip was
in a Russian helicopter over the big China Wall. I thought
we were going to crash. I've traveled in blimps, in jet
airplanes, in the Concord. You name it, I think I've done
of the riskiest journeys I ever took was when I was a Middler
in seminary. I was engaged to a girl from Iowa whom I would
marry, Arvella, and my classmate, Warren Heitbrink, was
engaged to a girl in South Dakota and we didn't get to see
them except on vacations. And we were not allowed to ever
take a trip off the campus without approval. Suddenly we
were surprised one Friday morning when Dr. John R. Mulder,
the President of the seminary, announced to our class that
there would be no class on Monday because he was leaving
town for a lecture in another state. So we had Monday off.
Mondays were always long studies with Dr. Mulder in his
classes. He was a very, very tough, strict person, very
unforgiving. If we were late he would never tolerate an
excuse, and no one ever offered one. Well, after class that
Friday morning, I said to Warren, "Warren, Dr. Mulder
is not going to be here Monday. We could drive from Michigan
to Iowa, get there in time to have a date ... a wonderful
weekend ... and get back here before Tuesday morning. When
he returns he will never know we were gone."
was a possibility thinker ... and that can get you in trouble!
So off we went. We had a wonderful weekend and we came back
late Monday night. We sat in class Tuesday morning like
a couple of young preachers. We faked it. But then Dr. Mulder
looked at me and he said, "Robert Schuller?"
just looked at me, but didn't say anything.
I said, "Yes?"
ignoring me he picked our warren Heitbrink and said, "Warren
said, "Yes, sir?"
Warren answered, "Yes?"
he had our attention! "Robert Schuller, Warren Heitbrink
... why weren't you in class here yesterday morning?"
said, "Well, you were out of town."
said, "No, I was not. My lecture was cancelled. I was
here." He said, "You had no permission to go to
said, "How did you know we went to Iowa?"
pointed to our classmate Chet Droog. "Chet Droog told
We were in trouble. We were called into his office and I'll
never forget his opening question, "Was it a weekend
of unalloyed enjoyment?
What a clever adjective. He had many of them. A weekend
of "unalloyed" enjoyment?
said, "Oh, yes!"
was the morning I was scheduled to give the prayer in the
chapel with all the students and the faculty. Attendance
was mandatory. And I, Robert Schuller, had just been caught
into something that impugned me with guilt. I have to get
up and pray the opening prayer. I'll never forget what I
prayed ... "Dear Lord, help us to forgive those who
do something wrong ... and if we've done something wrong
help everybody here to forgive us ..."
a true story from my autobiography My
THE Ultimate Journey
we come to the Christmas season, I think of all the journeys
of the people in the Christmas story. We know all about
the Journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
Then there was the journey of the three wisemen who followed
the star. And there was the journey of the shepherds who
went to the city of Bethlehem to say they'd see the angels.
And, of course, the journey of the angels themselves.
the Ultimate Journey of
all time was the journey of Jesus
from Heaven to Earth. God's big idea was to put heaven
on earth. Negative people look around and they say life
is hell on earth and for many that's true. But we are followers
of Jesus Christ and believers of the Book, the New Testament,
and we believe that Christmas is God's big move to put Heaven
of the greatest clergymen of American history died about
20-30 years ago. I'm sorry I never had the opportunity to
meet him. His name was Sam Shoemaker. He was Episcopalian.
Sam Shoemaker and Norman Vincent Peale were very close friends.
And the two of them were the spiritual participants that
helped Brother Bill put together the Twelve Step Programs
for Alcoholic Anonymous. AA didn't come out of secular hearts
and secular minds. It came out of the hearts and minds of
Norman Vincent Peale and Dr. Samuel Shoemaker.
one of Sam's greatest sermons that he preached was very
dramatic. In fact, very dramatic for an Anglican or Episcopalian.
He told how the time came in heaven when God called everybody
for a special meeting. And all of the angels were there
and all of the departed souls who were in heaven were present
... and the Son was there. God said, looking at His Son,
"Your time has come. It's time for You to go."
Then God said, "But I want You to know, You will not
go as a grown person, but as a little baby. It won't be
comfortable and beautiful like it is here. You'll be born
in a cow barn. You will not lie on clean napkins and clothes.
You will be lying on straw." God continued, "Jesus,
I want you to go there and just let people discover what
I am really like. Some people think I'm mean ... others
think I love to punish people who do bad things. I don't.
I love to forgive people. I'd forgive everybody if they
gave Me a chance. They don't believe in Me enough to take
the forgiveness that I offer. So Jesus, it's time for you
you will experience something you've never experienced here.
Here in heaven, all we experience is glory and honor, but
you will experience something called shame. Naked, they
will strip you. You will die between two criminals. In our
time in eternity it will only be like the blinking of an
eye, and then You will come back to life. You will be resurrected.
You'll make your appearances and a new faith will bloom
and blossom in the world that will never, never die. From
that time on, Jesus, you will have left behind You a bit
of heaven. This is our move to put heaven on earth. And
it'll stay there in the hearts of those who follow you.
And Son, just give them all MY
The Ultimate Journey happened when Heaven
came to Earth on Christmas when Jesus was born.
Christmas is God's move to put Heaven on Earth
is Heaven on Earth? Heaven on Earth is different things
to many people. Heaven on Earth is when you are crushed
with an incredible grief and something comes back alive
inside of you again that we call the Spirit of God.
on Earth is when you are tempted to be doubtful, cynical,
skeptical or bitter and a new Spirit comes in and you turn
off the negatives and hang onto faith again and it works.
That's Heaven on Earth.
nothing is more Heaven on Earth than when you've done something
wrong and you know you're a sinner and you are forgiven.
No indictment, no penalty, no court, no judgment, you're
been my privilege in my lifetime to be close friends to
two of the greatest psychiatrists, Viktor Frankl and Carl
Menninger ... and also one of the greatest theologian to
live in our time ... Dr. Jurgen Moltmann from Germany. Dr.
Moltmann is known as the Theologian of Hope and we've had
correspondence with each other. I was looking through my
letters before I published my book and I read again this
letter from him. It's a beautiful letter; I share a few
of his words with you.
Moltmann was born and raised in Germany and when he was
a teenager he was drafted into Hitler's army as a Nazi youth.
He writes, "As a teenager I wore the uniform of a Nazi
soldier. I was drafted for battle. I was geared to kill.
I grew up without faith in God. My father and mother were
pure secularists. I had never seen a Bible. When I left
for war, my sister gave me a book of the poems by Faust.
Dr. Moltmann writes, "came the hell of the Battle of
the Bridge of Arnheim in Holland where so many people died.
I can remember the horror of it. I can still see the enemy
tanks rolling in with guns blazing and my friend at my side
was killed. I, only twenty-four inches from him, did not
suffer a scratch. There were dead people all around me and
I wasn't hurt. I called out, "My God, why?" Why
did I call out to God? I knew nothing about Him. I didn't
believe in Him. I was a secularist, an atheist, I was a
brilliant student in mathematics and physics. My heroes
were Einstein and Heisenberg. I had no respect for a thing
called "God." My dream was to become a great professor
like they were. Here I am alive and around me is death ...
death ... death. But here I am standing. I'm alive.
next thing I know I'm a prisoner of war." He writes,
"They shipped me to Scotland where I saw for the first
time in my life pictures of Auschwitz, the concentration
camp. The photos were put up, but no comments, no words.
The other German prisoners with me said, 'It's all propaganda.
Germans wouldn't burn people in ovens. We all know that.
It's all propaganda, that's what it is. Oh, we may have
killed a few but they killed a lot of us in Dresden too.'
And then other pictures were put up. Again, no comments
and no words. Finally, it dawned on us ... it wasn't propaganda.
It was the truth! We Germans had done it! Is that what we
were fighting for? To give Hitler the power to put more
people in an oven? Was that the meaning of my life?"
Dr. Moltmann writes, "It was a horror of horrors that
I experienced that I'd never experienced before. Shame ... shame and humiliation ... nothing could save
me from that. It was horrible.
was, in this prison camp, a Scottish chaplain. He didn't
speak German very well but one day he came to me and handed
me a book. I really didn't understand him and he didn't
understand me, but I took the book. It was in German. It
was called The Bible. I'd never seen it before. I began to read
the Psalms. Then I began to read about Jesus. I knew nothing
about Jesus. Then I read how Jesus died on a cross. How
in His dying he called out, 'My God, my God, why have You
forsaken Me?' And then something happened in me when I read
those words. Jesus could understand what shame was. He would
understand what I was going through. He could understand
shame. I wanted to know more about Him.
I noticed how the guards in this prison were treating us.
They did not add to our shame. They did not accuse us of
our sins or our crimes. We wore the prisoner's patch on
our back but they forgave us. I could never tell you what
that was like. To get forgiveness when we know we deserve
hell eternally. And I was forgiven. Nothing like that happens
in the real world. No. No. But it happened here. They were
forgiving me. And I deserved anything but forgiveness.
called themselves Christians. Then I made a decision. I
wanted to be like them. That was the moment," Dr. Moltmann
writes, "when I became a Christian in my heart. I became
interested in the Bible as the Book of Love and in Jesus
Christ. When I asked if I could enroll in studies of this
Book they said, Yes, we have studies,' So I did.
one day the climax of it all. The prison guards told us
that there were some young people visiting from The Netherlands.
They had come to witness to us. We all gathered in our prison
hall wearing our prison uniforms when in came these Dutchmen
and the first words they said were, 'We want you to know
that we come from Arnheim.' Ohhh, the horror of that statement.
That's where the Battle of the Bridge took place. That's
where my friend was blown apart. That's where I asked the
question, 'Why, God?' Now here they are from Arnheim. It
filled me with terror. They said, 'We know of the Gestapo
terror. We know what you've done to our Jewish friends in
the concentration camps. We know how our bridge was blown
up. We came to tell you that we're going to build a new
bridge. You blew our bridge up, but we're going to build
a new one. But we came to tell you something else. There
is a really special new bridge we're going to build - between
your heart and Jesus Christ and that will be a bridge between
your hearts and our hearts. We forgive you, He forgives
us, He is our Lord. He is our Saviour.'
at the end of their testimony." Dr, Moltmann writes,
"I, still a teenager, a Nazi soldier, was really saved.
I reached out to the visitors from the Netherlands and they
reached out to me. They hugged me, I hugged them I forgave
me. Now I was totally saved." Hallelujah. What a journey.
you relate to something in that? Jesus
came to bring Heaven on Earth. When you accept Jesus
Christ it is not a religion. It is a new relationship. Don't
call it a religion like Christianity, call it a friendship
that you have with Jesus. That friendship will carry you
through life and into eternity.
say with me, "Jesus, live in me where I work, where
I ride, where I drive, what I read, what I do, how I treat
people who treat me good and how I treat people who treat
me badly. O God, Jesus, come into my heart, be my Saviour
and make me a little part of Heaven on Earth"