I'm confident that the decision to step from the pulpit to the pew after four decades is in the church's best interest and mine as well. I'm grateful for the treasure chest of memories and the privilege that has been mine to serve in that role. It certainly highlights the scripture: "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." [I Corinthians 1:27]
I don't have any unusual skills or abilities and I've always been one week away from having nothing to share. Miracles of miracles, somehow it has worked out.
The past several days have highlighted for me what I most enjoy about serving in the role of pastor. The ability to come alongside folks in their walk through the valley of the shadow of death is always something from which I benefit and draw strength. I sense the same is true for them.
In addition, the most vulnerable people in the world are family members who figuratively wait in hospital waiting rooms. The good news of the Gospel is that God does not abandon us when life becomes difficult, but offers to sustain us and see us through the difficulties.
This past Sunday, I invited a friend to supply the pulpit even though I was in attendance. I have no real control over anything that ultimately matters, and that is also true of the selection of the next pastor of Henly Baptist Church. My friend is willing to at least fill the pulpit in the interim until a pastor is selected. I am praying that he will serve both now and later.
His sermon this past Sunday was exactly what I needed to hear. As I thought about it this morning, it triggered a memory from long ago. It was approaching 10:00 p.m. and I was in downtown Houston headed to my hotel. I was stopped at a traffic light that seemed to take forever to change to green.
I was in the lane next to the curb and a crowd was on the sidewalk of what appeared to be a restaurant or nightclub. You could hear the sound of music drifting out from inside. Because of the crowd, I reached over and selected the lock mode for the doors. You can't be too careful.
Consequently, I was more than a little surprised when a man opened both the front and rear passenger doors to my car. Obviously, I had unlocked the doors rather than locked them. Two ladies got in the back seat and the man sat down in the passenger seat next to mine.
To suggest that I was confused is an understatement. I looked at the man and calmly asked: "Can you help me understand what is going on here?" He replied: "Aren't you Uber?" I answered, "No - my name is Don". Needless to say, they exited my vehicle more quickly than they got in. It was my first exposure to the word "Uber". Had I known, I would gladly have taken them wherever they needed to go.
On Sunday, the sermon highlighted the example of Christ getting uninvited into the boat of Simon Peter. He asked Simon to move the boat out from shore where it provided him the opportunity to teach the crowd. When he finished speaking, he asked that Simon go out into deeper water and let down his nets.
Simon replied: "We worked hard all last night and didn't catch a thing." Of course, if you remember the story, you know that the nets became so full they began to tear the nets. A shout for help brought a second boat and both boats were filled with fish.
The Scripture tells us: "When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, 'Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.' For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.
One of the points of the message is that when Christ is in charge of our lives, we yield to his leadership. That would represent a paradigm shift for many of us. Yet, the outcome of God's purposes always exceeds our own.
All My Best!