This morning I was driving to services, praying my prayers, singing my songs, second guessing myself. The lesson was going to be on anxiety, finding peace in this season where much of peace is celebrated but little is realized. Anytime you speak about anxiety in this day it is subject to being missed or misunderstood. But, I reminded myself, the text is the text. Is says what it says. My mission is to preach it, teach it, illustrate it, “give it the meaning”/apply it. And my mind rushed to last week.
The sermon was on not giving up on people. The text was Philippians 1:3-8. It was a needed lesson, God could have given up on Paul. Paul could have given up on Philippi. But “God will see His work to completion.” I was going to hit it hard. Be solid, some have had relational difficulties and tapped out too quickly.
Then I spotted this individual. They had been out of town for a few weeks. I didn’t anticipate them being back. They were having struggles with their marriages and I knew it. Their spouse had behaved in such a way that, if I understand scripture, even God would say they could have quit on the relationship. I could see how this individual might believe I was preaching at them. I wasn’t. In fact, as I preached the thought went through my mind. But the text is the text and I preached it as I prepared it. I tried to find the person after services, make sure I hadn’t offended, but they were gone. I carried it with me, the concern for them. Then over half through the week I was told that the couple had met, perhaps made some progress, and that it might have been the message on Sunday that prompted the meeting.
I’m certainly not bragging on myself or my sermon. I almost quit on the text. I could have short-circuited the “ministry of the Word.” I want to remind us to not quit on the Word. It will prevail. It will not pass. It will pursue. “my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).