Art Rogers is a young pastor in Oklahoma. He also authors an often-visited Weblog called 12 Witnesses. A few days ago, I read this entry. He graciously gave me permission to reproduce the entire entry. Old guys like me can learn a lot from hearts like his.
I had no intentions of blogging today – in any capacity. I left the laptop at the church and was just going to disconnect. It was a long, hard week last week. It was a great "Week of Renewal," but early mornings, late nights and lots of responsibilities come with such weeks. Kind of like taking teenagers to camp. Great things happen, but your bed is a nice end to the week.
I woke first this morning. When the alarm went off, I thought it was a mistake. I moved the clock up, but I didn't "Spring Forward," if you know what I mean. It was still dark and the radio, despite playing an inspirational song, just irritated me. On top of that, my family was sleepy, too. None of us were ready to meet the day.
Arriving at church, we hustled to Sunday school and I went over my sermon. It was a testimonial about what God had taught me the week past. We are having a "Share Service" tonight.
When I got to the service, there were a million things that seemed to distract. I had someone come and complain about something that happened – I won't say what it is, but you know. They are good people and they had a legitimate word, but it is so distracting.
I was late to the stage to pray. I was just so distracted that I almost missed it.
Just before the sermon, a young lady in my church got up to sing, "In Christ Alone." As soon as she began to sing, I began to weep. As the song progressed, it got worse. I first thought that I would be able to pull it together to preach, but it kept getting worse.
By the time she was done, I was crying heavily. Not the ugly cry – yet. You know the ugly cry, right? The kind where you just lose control? Yeah.
Well, I walked unsteadily up the stairs to the pulpit, shaken. In that moment, from the beginning of that song, I was broken. God graced me with a glimpse of my worthlessness and His sufficiency.
As I began to speak, I choked on my words. I grabbed the sides of the pulpit and held on. I asked that we pray. I have no idea at this moment what I prayed. I just know I lost it. Tears pouring, nose running and voice squeaking. Ugly.
At the end of this prayer, I went on to preach the sermon, but we may have been better off calling everyone to the altar right then. I don't know. I am glad that I am not required to be perfect.
I don't write this today to hold myself up as a self-righteous person. Just the opposite. Today, God showed me clearly that I was anything but that. I am a worm. Dirt. Filthy and foolish.
Over the last year and the last two days, I have pushed back and forth with my brothers and sisters in a way that just doesn't always feel good before the Lord. Not that I disavow my concerns or beliefs. I still feel quite strongly about all the things I felt strongly about yesterday.
I do feel brokenhearted about the way I have treated others. I have seen bitterness, false accusations and character assault fly and, in some occasions, I have participated. Regular readers will know that I really struggle to keep things on an even keel on this blog. Still, I have said some things in anger and mean spirit. After this morning, all my negative feelings seemed to be dissolved. I don't know. I just wasn't mad anymore.
The SBC is important to me, and I'll keep talking about it. However, if I've been hurtful to you, I want you to know I humbly apologize.
I pray God's richest blessings on all who read this – no matter what their convictions about the convention, how to do church or whatever else is making the rounds.
I am leaving the comment section open if you want to respond. I am tempted to close it on this one. I only ask that you not laud me in any way. I don't deserve it and this is not for that. You have no obligation to respond, either. If you think this post false in any way, I am sorry.
My prayer is that God will draw us together. Truly, we are not as far apart as we all seem to make ourselves.
My commitment is that I will try to watch my words and motives carefully.
You have blessed me, Art. You reminded me that we cannot build bridges unless we are broken to self and submitted to God. Thank you.
Dr. Thom Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist.