We’re celebrating this month the beginning of our fortieth anniversary as a televised church service. The world’s first. They hadn’t heard of a thing, a national televised church service and would go to all fifty states covering the country and it started here forty years ago in February 1970. So thank you for sharing the anniversary with us and for making it happen. Thank you and give yourself an applause for forty years.
Well what do I have for you today? A sermon? Oh don’t call it a sermon I don’t like sermons. What do you call it? A bible lesson? Not really. I refer to the bible, there’s a bible text but if you want a bible lesson you have to go to a place where you can ask questions. And the sermon, as some people would call it, this talk doesn’t allow for that to happen. What do you call what I’m about to give you? A lecture in theology? That sounds too heavy. Psychology? Sounds a little too secular? Philosophy? Sounds a little too humanistic. A lecture in sociology, anthropology? Here: I have an idea. Call what I’m about to give you an emotional therapy session. That’s what we hope to do from this platform every Sunday, an emotional therapy session. Is that really scriptural? Absolutely because what is the heart, the head, the king of all human emotions? It’s hope. And what is a church exist for to give you the faith, yes but first to give you hope. Hope is the mother of all positive emotions. The children would be called faith and courage and optimism. And what’s all important is hope. Hope through good times and bad times. You say how is it possible, Schuller, to remain positive in such a negative world? Oh I think you have to have the positive gift of the Holy Spirit that I call hope.
I love these lines. I first found them in the entrance to Mother Teresa’s place in Calcutta and I had them copy them for me. So imagine how many of you remember the name Mother Teresa? Quite a few. How many of you never heard the name? Well there probably never wasn’t a more household word in her lifetime than Mother Theresa. You’d come to her and in her lobby on the wall are these words for everyone to read: People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful you’ll win false friends, true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Well do good anyway. Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway. People love underdogs but follow only top dogs. Follow some underdogs anyway. What you spend your years building may be destroyed over night. Build anyway. People really need help but may attack you if you help them. Help people anyway. Give the world the best that you have and you may get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway. Thank you Mother Teresa.
So what am I going to call this word talk? I don’t want to call it a sermon, I don’t like sermons. I don’t want to think of it as just a psychological lecture. I hope it is an emotional therapy session and I hope it teaches you today the basic, basic, basic lesson on living a healthy human life. And I call that hope. Hope is the ultimate positive emotion. No we’re not born with it. We are born without faith. Hope is the mother of all the other positive emotions as I’ve said often, it gives you faith, courage, confidence, self-esteem, enthusiasm for living. Yes. It drives away despair, doubt.
Hope. You know it was Fulton Sheen who was one of my mentors. I miss him so much. He preached for me more than once here. He was in my mind the most brilliant Roman Catholic theologian of the time. He said something once I never forgot. I wrote it down here. He said the human being is the only animal that is controlled by time. Yes. Time passes called memory so it controls us. Time yet to come is called the future. And what is the future? Victor Hugo said the future has several names. For the weak it is impossible. For the faint hearted, the name is unknown. For the thoughtful and valiant the name is ideal for it holds challenges, opportunities. I put Archbishop Fulton Sheen and Victor Hugo together and we face the past and the future and we face it with what I call hope.
I’m wearing something special today. It is an anchor. It is a golden anchor, solid gold. Silver initials are R-H-S. I got a telephone call. The man said “I’m calling you from Monte Carlo.” Monte Carlo? “How do you know me?” Oh he said “from television and books.” He said “I’m calling; I have a gift for you. I had it made just for you. I want to come and give it to you. Will you see me?” I said “Of course.”
Many days later, the telephone rang, it was for me. He said “Here I am. I’m in LA. Are you in your office?” “Yes.” “Can you see me?” “Of course.” Well about an hour later, my secretary said “This gentleman is here and wants to see you. He said you told him to come in.” I said “I did.” She said “He has a friend with him.” Oh? She opened the door and there was a man with a patch over his left eye. His right eye, the eyeball was still there but it was curled all the way up unseen. He carried a white cane. His left leg was about five inches shorter than his right leg. And the friend, who was there, said “this is (named the name).” He said “I’m his driver.” “Come in.”
The man came in, walking very erect, very straight; he said “Dr. Schuller, you saved my life. And I had a gift made for you to thank you.” He said “Let me tell you my story. I was very wealthy, took all my money from Cuba and moved to Monte Carlo. My family was probably the richest family in Cuba. I inherited all the money. Had no morals, had no religion, I could afford the richest and most expensive girlfriends and I had them. And one day, after we moved to Monte Carlo to escape from Castro, took one of my girlfriends, we were going to Switzerland, we came around the curve, the curve where Princess Kelly was killed and I lost control, hit a tree. Seven months later, I came out of my coma and I was blind and lost all sexual powers. That was my life. For seven months, I tried to live sightless and sexless and I became more depressed. I finally decided I was going to kill myself.
I had a close friend and told him, and he said ‘I don’t blame you. I would.’ He bought a gun for me; it was set up for eleven o’clock on Sunday morning in my yacht. I put the TV on. Onto that screen came a man’s face and with the volume full blast, he was screaming ‘This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!’ He said I couldn’t pull the trigger. I couldn’t pull the trigger. It was you, Dr. Schuller. I hung onto every word. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t even really know what you were saying, but I knew I couldn’t pull the trigger, not now, next Sunday.
The next Sunday, back again and there you were again on the television screen and with full volume, ‘this is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it.’”
And he said “I just fell to the floor, weeping, weeping. And I heard you say something about take Jesus into your life, and I didn’t know what that meant. But I said I will. I am whatever it means.” And he said “Since then, everything changed. I had the feeling that there would be some good tomorrows for me now. Good tomorrows for me now. That is a short definition of the sermon title hope.” So he said, “My life has become wonderful and I owe it all to you for giving me that message of Christ.” So he said, “I called my jeweler and said is there a symbol in the bible for hope? My jeweler said ‘yes, it’s the anchor.’” I said “Then make an anchor for me. Make it about this big and a solid gold chain with it. On the front of the anchor, I want you to put three letters in silver: R-H-S. That man brought hope to my life.” Said “Dr. Schuller,” he reached in his pocket, opened it and here it was. I’m wearing it this morning an anchor and a gold chain. Hope.
Hebrews chapter 6, verse 19, listen: “Hope is the anchor of the soul.” Yes. You need it in all ages, in all conditions. You need hope. Where are you? I ask you to make a decision this morning to follow Jesus Christ. It’ll change your whole life, your whole future.
I was on the phone this week with a man who served on my board for many years and remains one of my closest friends. Lives in Ohio and in fact he was probably, yes, one of I think 15,000 of the many graduates of Louisville University to get a special degree for his life. He was living a wonderful life and then one day he got news he needed to see a doctor. Saw the doctor. I’ll tell you his name, its Ralph Anderson, founder of Bell Cam Corporation, one of the greatest engineering companies of the world, with 5,000 engineers.
He left the doctors office with bad news. “Ralph, you got cancer. It’s malignant.” He went home, woke up the next morning, would he go to work? Should he just go to resign? He came in the entrance of his great building; I think he had 5,000 engineers. On the wall he saw something he never saw before. What was it? Who put it there? Then he asked his secretary, what’s that? She said “it’s a shadow.” She said “never saw it before. I guess it’s where the sun is today.” She said “it’s catching, I think, the corner of your glass coffee table and throwing that shadow on the wall.” Interesting. It was a clear shape of a fish. And she said “Mr. Anderson must be a gift for you. The fish is the symbol of Jesus Christ.”
He said I cried. It was a message from the God I believed in, come to work, I will be with you. Now that’s many, many years ago. Talked to him this week and he needs our prayer again, but what a great man. Hope came in through a shadow, thrown there by the placement of the sun in a position it had never been before in his lifetime. Jesus Christ.
Wherever you are, embrace Jesus Christ. Now then you’re embracing a truth. It is a fact that man lived. It is a fact that He died a horrific death. It is a fact that He gave us lessons in living that have never been surpassed by any mind doctor in the history of the human family. He is my friend. I visit with Him all the time right here and here. What does that give me? When you’ve got a friend like that, you’re consumed by hope. Hallelujah. Amen.