I've been working on a message for some years now, both to honour exceptional individuals for their Kingdom work and inspire the folk that hear the message in their daily walk with God.
Many of you will know I've run my fair share of conferences over the years, the bigger ones would get 1,000 people over the weekend (which is incredible for Wales), the smaller ones, intimate gatherings of between 40-200. Some had a prayer emphasis, others a prophetic emphasis, others focussed on winning the lost, impacting the Nation for Jesus.
We'd always try and get a key note speaker, and had some big names come over the years. Back 10 years ago, I invited Bob Hoskins (The other one!), the Founder of OneHope, to come and share. I wanted to acknowledge the extent of what he had done, acknowledge the impact of His vision to reach every child in the world with the Gospel. His ministry was approaching 1 billion gospel encounters globally.
Being from Wales, I thought a nice gift would be a brass miners lamp, but then started to wonder how I could frame a message when I gave it to him. Bob was the key note speaker of one of our smaller conferences in Blackwood (South Wales). Around 120 people came to hear. The man who had dined with Presidents and Royalty all over the world, was quite happy to come and share with us. The Kingdom is no respecter of persons.
This miner lamp message was keeping me awake at night, until I remembered something my Grandfather had told me years before.
He had related when he was a coal miner in South Wales in 1930's, how they were looking for Anthracite coal, it burned hotter and longer with less smoke, so was more valuable. Back then he described having to lay on his side and shimmy his way into a 2 ft high seam of coal with a pick axe. He told me 'WE WERE CHASING FOR THE BREAKTHROUGH'. Of course he meant cutting when he said chasing, and the breakthrough was when he cut into the anthracite seam.
Firstly I couldn't imagine working in such conditions, often working long hours, with cave in's risk of gas explosions and general accidents. He related how a tram derailed one time and killed his best friend instantly.
The miners lamp was the only source of light back then, showing the way to the seam and the light catching the bright reflection of the anthracite coal - when they saw the coal glimmer, they knew they would see the breakthrough.
As I gave my talk back in 2010, presenting Bob Hoskins with his miners lamp, I talked in these terms:
How Bob had been given the task of mining for the lost and unloved.
How when things got tough, Bob had to double down his efforts in that metaphorical 2 ft. seem.
How with every blow of the pick in his hand he believed he increased the odds of his vision succeeding - He never gave up, He Chased for the Breakthrough.
That his effort over years had warmed the hearts of millions.
That the full value of his mining for souls over many years as so many have come to know Jesus, could only be measured by history.
Then I shifted emphasis to bring this liken the message to Jesus.
If man would go to the lengths he does to get some black material out of the ground to provide warmth for the customer and profit for the company, how much further did Jesus go ?
Imagine we were the Anthracite and Jesus the miner. Heaven literally shifted earth to relentlessly Chase after us, until the breakthrough of our salvation was realised.
When we begin to understand the lengths that Jesus went to, the pain He endured for us, the weight of the sin of mankind taken on His shoulders. Also the people and circumstance involved in our salvation. You realise I guess with this kind of metaphor, how deep God's love for us was and is.
It's often just plain nice to acknowledge someones ministry, especially those who remain humble through their entire life.
Sometimes taking something life a miners lamp and awarding it to a Hero of the Faith, is the right thing to do. To help them see the magnitude of their work, to pause for a moment and breath and breathe of thanksgiving.
In closing, neither you nor I might have distributed 1 billion gospel invitations, yet, if we only touch one, we are doing Kingdom work. There might be a person that needs one more prayer, one more conversation, one more invite, for them to meet Jesus.
Don't delay, Chase for the Breakthrough today.