It was Sunday morning, the first day of a meeting in New Albany, Indiana. During the song service, Cindy whispered to me that our five-year-old, Gabriel, needed to go to the restroom. Since there would be several minutes before I would be introduced to speak, I volunteered to take him out. We both took advantage of our visit to the restroom, then returned to our seats.
Several minutes later, I was ushered onto the stage. In keeping with the traditionally correct standards of most churches, it has always been my custom to wear a suit jacket on Sunday morning and for at least the first 30 seconds of my sermon. After that, I discard the thing like it was yesterday’s newspaper. (Note: I would do the same thing with my tie, if I thought I could get away with it. I mean, come on, when a tradition loses all its practical value, serves no other purpose than decoration, and keeps a man from swallowing or breathing correctly while trying to deliver the Lord’s message, it’s time to lose that tradition!)
Well, back to our story. There I was, the visiting minister about to launch into a seven-part series entitled, “Storming the Gates of Hell!” Things were fixin’ to heat up and I didn’t need a suit jacket in the middle of July to keep me focused on the topic of Hell.
Not wanting to lose attention or any of the precious time allotted to me, I yanked the jacket from my back, tossed it toward a chair and introduced myself all at the same time.
Midway through this multi-tasking introduction, I felt a discomfort around my midsection. Maintaining good eye contact with the audience, I reached down behind the pulpit and attempted to adjust my shirt and pants. Still rambling on a hundred miles an hour, I sensed that my shirt was not tucked in properly. “This will never do,” I thought to myself. “We are about to storm the gates of Hell and my untucked shirt will most certainly hamper this military campaign!”
Reaching down with the other hand, I attempted to re-tuck my shirt without drawing too much attention to what I was doing behind the pulpit. Several seconds later, it became painfully obvious that not only my hands, but also both of my eyes were going to be needed in order to complete this delicate re-tuck maneuver.
I cast a quick glance toward my midsection hoping not to linger there for long. Unfortunately, what I discovered was going to require more than a glance to make it right. Evidently, while tucking and zipping up Gabriel in the restroom earlier, I was in such a hurry to get back to the auditorium that I not only tucked my dress shirt into my pants, I also tucked it quite securely into my boxer shorts. It was not just in front mind you, I tucked the shirt in real good all the way around!
Now, I want you to put yourself in my situation. Have you ever tried to redress yourself while standing in front of an entire auditorium filled with people who are expecting you to raise the roof with a triumphant sermon about storming the gates of Hell? The word “awkward” just doesn’t seem adequate to fully describe all the emotions that I was feeling at that moment. I’ve never been one to hide behind a pulpit, but that day, it was all duck and cover.
Aren’t you thankful that an effective assault on the gates of Hell is more dependent upon the skill and the might of the Commander and Chief than it is upon His troops? Even with all of our good intentions and well planned strategies, getting dressed for battle is too much for us to accomplish on our own. The battle belongs to the Lord. Perhaps we can help best by just minimizing the distractions we create.
2 Corinthians 10:2-4 (NIV)
“I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
Note: Sharing these Sonny Day Devos is a great way to open doors for conversations about God and His values. Just follow these simple steps:
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- Prepare for conversation!
The story above was taken from the book, “A Funny Thing Happened On Our Way to Heaven” by Sonny Childs. In the spirit of those chicken soup books, this collection of 52 short stories is sure to inspire.
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