Monday, October 3, 2016

Memory of a Boy Preacher

My reading in the 34th Psalm today brought back a time when I was a boy preacher trying to become a man.  I was in the middle of seminary and at a point in my life when it was time to appear before the Conference Board of Ministry of the United Methodist Church.   It was another step on the journey which started a few years earlier with a call to preach.  Back then candidates for ministry were not required to submit a recorded sermon for scrutiny to the Board.  We only had to submit a manuscript for reading.  The 34th Psalm reminded me of the text assigned for the sermon.  It was Colossians 1:13-14, a Word which reads, "He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

It was the Psalmist's use of the word "rescue" which brought this old memory back into the present moment.  Verses 17 and 19 read, "When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles....Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord rescues them from them all."  Being rescued is a good thing.  To be rescued means that we are caught up in a trouble too great from which to deliver ourselves.  We see people being rescued from floods.  We see people being rescued from perilous mountain peaks.  We see people being rescued from all kinds of tragedies which threaten to take away life.  In those situations no one is going to shun the ones who come to rescue.

My old preaching text from way back long ago reminded me again that I need rescuing from the power of darkness.  There is something about me which causes me to think that the wrong way is the right way and I am too eager to choose it even when it is obviously something which speaks of disobedience to the will of God.  Before I heard that call to preach, I realized how lost I was without God.  I needed someone to rescue me.  But, the truth is I have never gotten beyond the need for God to rescue me from the consequences of my wrong choices.  Like you, I am thankful He continues to hang in there with me offering both a mercy and a forgiveness that is beyond anything I could ever hope to receive. 

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