There are many places I’ve ended up over the last number of years which have been unplanned and have taken me by surprise, such as Pigeon Forge (home of Dolly Parton!) and every inch of the Atlanta city ring road (too scared to attempt to turn off!). But the most surprising – and scary – place I’ve ended up is in a pulpit.
I have friends who are ministers and ministers who are friends, and I’d like to think that I’ve always had a healthy respect for the work they do and the burden they bear. However, a few years ago I received a phone call that would catapult that respect to a whole new level. Our minister at the time called out of the blue and asked if I would preach some sermons. One thing led to another, and, usually out of a desperate need to find a ‘preacher’ (the word is used in the loosest possible sense), I have since had the privilege and responsibility of being asked to take services in several congregations in Lewis and Harris. How someone carries these responsibilities out from week to week is a mystery; or, at least, it would be, were it not for knowing that they are given “grace to help in time of need”.
I’ve often heard ministers speaking about how they are preaching to themselves first and foremost, and then to their congregation; because if it’s not relevant and meaningful and alive to themselves, how can they make it so to anyone else? I’ve grown to understand a bit of what they mean by that – if what I am telling other people to do or believe isn’t relevant to me, what’s the point? And this was brought home more than ever today.
You see, I’ve been asked to help out tomorrow by one of those desperate ministers, and as I was preparing for the service this afternoon, two things struck me. Firstly, the word ‘journey’ (which I’ve adopted for the blog) features prominently in what I’m planning to say. Jesus undertook many journeys during His life, but none more important than the journey (if that’s even the correct word) from Heaven to Earth. You and I undertake many journeys in life, but none more important than the journey from Earth to Heaven. Being sure to be on that journey is essential.
Then the second thing that struck me was this quote from the bible which is in my notes, words spoken by Jesus: “go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you”. How often do I do that? Or perhaps the better way to ask that would be, how often do I fail to do that? I hate to think what the answer is.
This post was completely unplanned, but it’s the result of the thought process triggered by these two things. I share quotes and bible verses from time to time on Facebook, but in the midst of these and posts related to sport, culture, humour, politics and so on, surely there’s room for something just a little bit more personal.
What has God done for me? In a word, everything. But specifically, He has forgiven my sins, paid the penalty for them, and assured me of Heaven. That’s what mercy is. I’m happy to talk to anyone about my faith and my God, but this is how I’m doing it today.
It’s my greatest prayer that every one of my family and friends doesn’t just hear me tell about what God has done, but that they (you) have your own personal testimony about God’s mercy to share. We are on the journey of life together; make sure your destination is the same as mine. That’s the greatest thing one could wish for those one loves and cares about.