I have been preaching since I was fourteen years old. That’s 34 years. My first message was only a little over six minutes long. I just said everything I knew to say, ran out of steam, and sat down. When it comes to preaching brevity covers a multitude of sins. Nevertheless, since then I have developed the ability to pretty consistently preach about ten times that long.
A few years ago I was preaching and at exactly noon someone’s watch alarm went off. You could hear it all over the church. The man made no attempt to turn it off. He just sat there disrupting the whole service and let it beep with his arm resting casually on the back of the pew. It was especially distracting to me because I was conscientious about preaching beyond the noon hour and I was at a critical point in my message trying to drive truth home to the hearts of people. For the next few months every time I went a few minutes past noon the man allowed his alarm to disrupt the service.
I try to forgive people when they do petty foolish things like that because if you let it get under your skin you will stay constantly upset and be of no real use to the Lord in ministry. Angry preachers don’t accomplish the purposes of God and they cannot meekly instruct those who are taken captive by the enemy. I’ve learned that I can’t really be a help to people with my own soul tied in knots all the time. The incident did come to mind this past week though.
I spent last week with twelve young men. We rose every morning at six to seek the Lord. On Wednesday we fasted for lunch and spent all day seeking the Lord and delighting in the Lord. We prayed and read scripture and encouraged and exhorted one another and sang hymns and took prayer walks and spent over nine hours delighting in the Lord. It was a sunny day–almost spring-like and for a few hours the snow melted. We all took and hour and a half to spend time with the Lord in creation. In all we spent many hours seeking the Lord and he met with us. We had a small but very real revival. There were tears, prayers, confessions and the experience of holy affections for God.
I had a long drive home alone on Saturday all the way through the state of Wisconsin north to south. Thinking on the week I realized that one of the reasons we all heard from the Lord is because we took time to wait before the Lord for hours.
Maybe you should get away and spend a weekend seeking God or turn off the TV at night and get up in the morning an hour earlier to spend time in fellowship with the Lord. I have had some sweet times with the Lord on a half-day off at a park with the Lord or skipping lunch and going to my car to read the Bible and pray. Last month over five hundred men sacrificed a half week to travel to Indianapolis. God met with us there in an unusual way when we sacrificed to be there and sought Him for hours.
We didn’t tell God we wanted to meet with him and worship him and then set our watch to go off in an hour. We can’t expect God to do profound things in our lives if we trifle with him. He reveals Himself to those who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
February 25, 2007