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For God’s Sake: To God be the glory

The scenario that spins out in my dreams takes place on a Sunday morning. I am enjoying pleasant conversations with people before the worship service then suddenly realize that I have not even prepared a sermon. That dream wakes me up!

I had something akin to that dream happen in real life. I was in Nicaragua speaking at a week-long pastors’ conference. On Saturday evening, the conference organizer said to me, “Oh, by the way, you are speaking at three churches tomorrow.” My eyes widened in surprise, and I hurried back to my room to scour through my sermon files on my laptop.

Early the next morning, I was stuffed into a small car with my interpreter and a few other men, and we set out for the first church. As the car wended its way out of the city, I reviewed my notes for the sermon I had selected.

When the car left the suburbs, I looked less at my notes and more at the passing scenery. Where were we going? When the car entered the jungle, I realized that the sermon I had selected would not do. I had a moment of panic like what I experienced in those dreams; I had no sermon!

At that moment, I recalled Jesus’ words to his disciples, “Do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.”

We emerged into a small clearing where sat the church, a crude, stick structure open on one end. A dozen or so people sat on plastic lawn chairs arranged on a dirt floor beneath a blue, plastic tarpaulin roof.

The pastor welcomed me through my interpreter, then invited the congregation to stand for the reading of God’s Word, Genesis chapter 1. He added, “I do hope that our dear brother will preach on this text.” I now had my sermon text. The congregation sang a hymn to the accompaniment of their rhythmic clapping. A woman read from a psalm: “Some trust in chariots and horses,” my interpreter translated, “but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” I now had my theme statement.

When I stood before that expectant group. I cried out in my heart, “Lord, I am not prepared.” He answered the cry of my heart, “Child, I’ve been preparing you for this all your life; speak.” I paused like a diver on a springboard then launched. Thirty minutes later, I ended with, “Let’s pray.”

That scenario was repeated at the next church with a different sermon; we couldn’t find the third church.

That first sermon remains to this day my best; to God be the glory!


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