Heather and ClayCal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

Ok… to refer to him as a rock star is technically inaccurate. To be more specific, he’s a “country music star.” But he does rock…big time! His name is Clay Walker and he’s the real deal. While I’ve never met him personally, I have huge respect for him. It’s how he’s treated another rock star, one who is a friend of mine, that has made me so high on him.

So who’s the other rock star? She’s a young lady that goes to our church. Ok…to refer to her as a rock star is once again technically inaccurate. She’s so much more than that. Her name is Heather Johnson and she is one of the most precious people I know. What makes her so special is the incredible manner in which she approaches life. You see, over a decade ago Heather was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Lisa and I have had the privilege of walking alongside Heather in her journey of learning to deal with this debilitating disease. Actually, Heather has many friends who care deeply about her (including many within the Central family). What sets her apart is her amazingly joyful and uplifting spirit. Every single time Lisa and I are with her, we walk away on a cloud. I have no idea how she does this to us but she does…she always does. Somehow, in ways I can’t begin to understand, MS has done something wonderful to and within her.

This brings to mind something Paul once said,

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

To think of MS as “a light and momentary trouble” might sound like I’m minimizing it. Please trust me, I’m not. But Heather does, and that’s the point. She refuses to let it define her. She refuses to let it defeat her. With the aid of her wonderful and gracious caregiver Chelsea, she fights it every day with every ounce of strength she has. She simply lives larger than this disease. She has eternity in her eyes! And this is what makes her so incredible.

So what does Clay Walker have to do with this? Well, he met Heather over a decade ago at one of his concerts and when he found out she had MS, he took her aside, took her hands in his, and prayed for her. HE PRAYED FOR HER! To say this touched Heather is an understatement. She’s never forgotten it. Clay is a believer who also deals with MS. So… just the other day Clay was back in town and he noticed Heather was in the crowd. Without her being aware of any of this, he made arrangements for her to come backstage after the concert. When they were reunited, he asked her if she remembered him! Of course she did! Further, he asked if Heather remembered what they did together a decade ago? (They prayed). He then asked her if she remembered the date… she didn’t BUT HE DID! Can you believe this? Who is this guy?

This is the reason they are both rock stars in my eyes. In different ways and for different reasons, they have learned to give their lives away. They both understand that God and life are bigger than they are. They are making the most of it.

While I have no idea how to cross paths with Clay, you can usually catch Heather at the 4:00 Saturday service in Mesa. She’s the one with the glow surrounding her. While’s she not a rock star in the normal sense of the term, she’s more than that to those of us who have the privilege of knowing her.

Whose life will you bless today?

A Tale of Two Rock Stars

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