Yesterday, I was given the honor and privilege of delivering the annual missions sermon at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Muskogee Baptist Association. I have known for many months what I wanted to preach on. I chose II Kings 7:3-9, where the lepers where sitting outside the gates of Samaria which was being besieged by King Ben-hadad of Aram. A desperate situation was inside the city and they were resorting to cannibalism to survive. The lepers were also starving, but hey were outside the gates. They got the idea to go to the camp of the Arameans to see if they would have mercy on them. They didn't know that God had scared them off and the camp had been abandoned.
The lepers found food and ate their fill. Then they carted off silver and other loot and hid it for later. Finally, their consciences got the better of them and they decided that since this was a "day of good news" they better not keep it to themselves. They went back and told the city that salvation could be found in the camp.
I likened this to the Christian's journey: salvation is found in Jesus; the new believer gets his fill of the new blessing (discipleship), then goes and tells others of the blessing (evangelism/missions).
Well, it seemed to go OK. I interspersed stories of our time in Africa in the sermon and tried to make it very personal. Before the meeting started (like a few months ago) I was told that I would have 2o minutes for the sermon. When I looked at the program yesterday afternoon, I found that I had actually been allowed 45.
The sanctuary of the church where the meeting was held didn't have a clock for me to go by. There was one on the pulpit, but the battery was dead. I forgot to take my watch off and lay it there (but we all know it doesn't mean anything when preachers do that!).
Well, I got confused on the time. I kept trying to snatch glimpses of my watch, but mixed up. As I finished, I was proud of myself for finishing 20 minutes early. As I walked away, I began to think about it some more and then realized instead of finishing 20 minutes early, I had actually gone over by 40 minutes!
A wave of humiliation/grief/lament/sorrow/embarassment swept over me. I had been afforded this incredible opportunity and had unabashedly abused it! My heart began to race and I started sweating from all the adrenylan in my system. I was losing my breath! My heart was pounding!
Finally, as I thought more about it, I decided to take another look at a program. Then I looked at my watch again.
I HADN'T gone over 40 minutes! I was only over by 8! And since we were a few minutes late anyway, no one thought a thing about it!
Another funny thing that happened during the sermon was that my phone began to ring. Now, I had it on vibrate, but everyone who knew me (I thought) knew I was going to be preaching at about this time. However, my good friend, Quinn, from South Carolina, wasn't aware of this particular addition to my schedule. He ended up leaving a voice message asking me who the quarterback for Texas Tech was, (as if I knew or cared!).
Sorry I didn't call you back, Quinn!