Today, my pastor delivered his first sermon since returning from a family vacation from Orlando. I am new to this Church, having only attended for about the last eight or nine months, & not always consistently at that. Still, this is a Church that I sought on my own & for no one else. One thing that anchors me to this Church is how impressed I’ve been with its pastor. For the sake of his privacy, let’s just call him McLucas. McLucas is a wise man & gifted speaker. It had been about a month since I had seen him deliver a sermon so I had been looking forward to hearing him this Sunday.
McLucas relayed how his family waited in line for ninety minutes for one particular ride. He heard a man in front of him go on & on about how great it was, indicating that he had already ridden. McLucas asked the man why we would want to stand in line all over again just to do something he had already done. The man simply replied, “Man! This is the best ride in the world!” Expecting an epic experience, McLucas remained in line to witness this earth shattering event for himself. When it was over thirty seconds later, he found himself asking, “That’s it? Oh well. What’s next?”
How does this relate to a sermon? McLucas explained that he failed to develop a relationship with God until he was in his twenties. Up until then, he had spent his young adulthood living for the weekends. He hated his job but performed his duties. He placated his displeasure by holding on for those two brief days, when he would, in his own words: “Celebrate if it had been a good week or drown my sorrows if it had been a bad one.” But without a more permanent framework for his focus, McLucas felt largely empty. Sure, he would find a reason to laugh or smile while he lost himself in some temporary diversion, but that was just it; it would only be a diversion. On the other hand, he explained that God wants us to:
“Live today with the concept of eternity in mind. We live with a purpose. Nothing we do or think is ever lost.”
Before McLucas found God, he lived life as though he were a visitor to an amusement park. He would endure the pain of waiting underneath the hot sun for that thirty second diversion only to find himself asking, “That’s it? Well, what’s next?” He challenged us with the rhetorical question, “How many of us have had to resort to living life in this fashion?”
No one said a word, but I’m sure many people felt the same way I did; we have all lived that way at one time or another.
McLucas was not yet done. Of course, he tied his personal experience in with scripture, which is always an effective means of making the Bible verse seem less like a line from a fairy tale & more like words to live by today, which I enjoy. But I’m not here to talk scripture. I’m here to relay my response to a wise man’s sermon that was based on scripture. Here’s why: you will always hear the same scriptures at any church you attend. But will stand out, for me at least, is the presentation of each individual speaker. Here’s how this Sunday’s speaker closed out the sermon.
McLucas declared his vacation a success. He had spent a week in sunny Florida where the air temperature was 85 degrees in the day time. Here we were further north with cloudy skies & freezing rain in mid-February. But he pointed out the thing that made the trip special wasn’t what he did, but who he shared it with. The true treasure came through strengthening the relationships within his family; in creating memories with the people who he cared most about. In rather comical fashion, he summarized: “I wouldn’t fly all the way down there to stand in line for ninety minutes to ride those rides by myself.”
Indeed he wouldn’t. But who would? And this is the reason why I wanted to avoid discussing the actual scripture verse & instead focus on the delivery. No matter who we are & how much we’ve accomplished, everything is better with people to share it with & nothing feels complete when we’re alone. Oh, & no matter what–when he live today with the concept of eternity in mind, we know we are always sharing with God.
Today, I waited forty minutes to hear McLucas deliver his sermon. And when it was over, I did not find myself asking, “That’s it?” Instead, I found myself saying, “Wow. I should really come to Church every Sunday!”