The ringing of my phone jarred me awake at 2:55 on Sunday morning. 2:55! Vaguely conscious, I mumbled some sort of greeting. It must have sounded like I’d smoked profusely for a lifetime.
Someone on the other line said something about being with a security company and that an alarm was going off at our church building. “Church? What’s a church?” Slowly, the fog in my brain began to lift and I asked a few questions. Apparently, the wind had caused an unlocked door at our church building to set off an alarm. No motion detectors were activated so it seemed all was well. After some additional words the phone call ended. It was nearly 3 a.m.
Since becoming a pastor decades ago, Saturday night sleep has always been fitful. I toss and turn. I wonder if I have the right illustration and if I’m transitioning well to the second point and if I will remember to check my zipper. Saturday sleep has always been a challenge. But 2:55 in the morning?
Not 30 minutes later, the power went out at our house. Storms in the area had obviously damaged something. I lay in the sudden quiet of my bedroom, wondering about the weather and whether the power would come back on and if I was closing the upcoming sermon with the right umpff.
I decided sleep was just going to have to wait. At 3:30 on Sunday morning I stumbled around to find a candle and lighter. Careful not to awaken my sleeping wife, I showered and shaved by candlelight, dressed and thought about whether my sermon introduction was adequate.
Reaching the kitchen, I was chagrined to discover that the lack of power also meant there was no coffee. What kind of pastor would I be without my coffee? I wasn’t even sure if I was human without some coffee. I didn’t know for sure if Paul himself could preach without some coffee.
I drove to the church building in the darkness. How relieved I was to discover it had power. Apparently the outage was restricted to my small subdivision. I unlocked the building, turned off the cursed security system and made my way to my office. I thought to pray for those who would be coming to worship services. I envied them as they slumbered in sweet oblivion to my early morning struggles. But I prayed they would experience the presence of the Lord as they gathered for corporate worship and small group bible studies in just a few hours.
I preached God’s word later that morning. God gave me his grace. I was tired, but energized by the opportunity to preach. I did say “Treasure earthly things” when I meant to say “Treasure eternal things” a couple of times in the first service. But the people were forgiving and understood what I meant to say– I think. Someone made coffee for the small groups and I got to drink enough to join the human race.
What a privilege to preach the bible, point people to Jesus and encourage others in faith. All the difficulties and challenges and obstacles are small when compared to that great calling. Being a pastor (or ministry leader or sunday school teacher) is a blessing so much greater than any of our small issues. These problems are small and God’s message is so great.
This Sunday, as I do most Sundays, I will preach the timeless truths of God to people in need of that truth. I might be a bit tired. Maybe I won’t have slept as well as I could have wished. It might be that my coffee was too weak.
But I will get to preach. And I don’t want to forget how much that matters.
Oh, and I’ll make sure that church building door is locked Saturday afternoon.