On April 17, 2013, an ammonium nitrate explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas while emergency personnel were responding to a fire at the location. Fifteen people were killed, more than 160 were injured, and more than 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed.
First Baptist Crawford decided to help out. We closed our sanctuary doors, picked up our congregation, and worshiped with the congregation of First Baptist West on June 16, 2013. We gave the staff of First Baptist West the day off and First Baptist Crawford led the combined congregations in worship.
Preaching that day remains one of my favorite pastoral memories. I decided to remain with my planned preaching schedule. I was in the midst of the Songs of Summer series, working through the theology of our favorite hymns. On the schedule for that day was the hymn “It is Well.” Whoa. I connected the lyrics to Paul’s remarks in Philippians 4:10-13.
A few snapshots of that sermon:
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”
The Apostle Paul did not wake up one day and find himself wearing contentment. He learned contentment.
How did he learn it? He experienced being fed and hungry, living in plenty and in want. The school of hard knocks educated Paul on how to be content during the ups AND THE DOWNS. The laboratory of life produced a content Paul on the good days and the bad days.
“… I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.”
Paul learned to keep his focus on his relationship with the Lord, not on the fluctuating circumstances of his life. That’s genuine contentment.
I recall that memory because this past Sunday I ran across a notification on Facebook from First Baptist West:
What an amazing day! After the explosion, First Baptist Crawford came and did church for us so our staff could take a breath and concentrate on recovery. Today a team of us from FBC West were able to “pay it forward” and do the same for Calvary Baptist Church – Deweyville, TX. Their church has flooded twice in the past 18 months! What a blessing for all of us to worship together today!
I thank God everyday for his goodness. I thank God everyday for the opportunity to serve in his church.
Despite news to the contrary, God is still at work.