A few days ago I preached the baccalaureate sermon for Crawford High School (you can see the manuscript here).
Disciple and Preacher
It was yet another opportunity to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ and as a preacher of the gospel. Numerous times a week I stand before a crowd and proclaim truth from the Scriptures. It’s always a privilege. And from time to time it’s really difficult.
This baccalaureate sermon was fun ~ filled with two stories and two pointed words of application from Philippians 4. The focus of the message was upon the glorious exchange found in Philippians 4:6~7. We can bring to God our anxiety, stress, worry, sin, addiction, junk, and He provides peace. We can exchange our junk for the peace of God. What a deal!
A Bus on Short Notice
What made this sermon difficult … the anxiety-filled three days prior to the delivery of the message. Three days before the message I received word about mistake made in the logistical details of our youth summer camp. Long story short … no bus. I received word mid afternoon and made countless phone calls trying to secure another bus company on short notice. I called every company Google had to offer me.
“Sorry, we are booked.”
“We’ve been booked for months.”
“I’d love to help but we have no available buses.”
“Yes, we have a bus available but it is going to be TWICE as much as your previous bid.”
“Yes, we have a bus available but it is going to be THREE times as much as your previous bid.”
I called company after company until I started reaching voicemails that stated, “We are closed for the weekend.”
I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday filled with stress and anxiety. I worried about wasted church resources. I let my mind create scenarios in which we hired an unfamiliar bus company that left us stranded needing a ride to Glorieta, New Mexico. I pictured disappointed kids and furious parents. It was enough to ruin this particular type A personality.
… All of this as I was preparing to stand before a crowd to discuss the peace of God.
Sometimes preaching can make you feel like a fraud.
The Peace of God
Over the weekend I read and prayed Philippians 4:6~7 countless times. I told God, “I’m taking you up on your offer. Here’s my anxiety. Please let me have peace.” Yet, my heart continued to race. At one point during the weekend my wife said, “Sometimes God offers peace in an instant. At other times, you need to depend on Him over and over again. This is an opportunity to trust God.” Isn’t my wife great? (The answer is “Yes!”)
By the time of the sermon on Sunday evening, I was much more at ease but still uncomfortable with “The Great Bus Drama of 2018.”
Monday morning rolled around and I jumped back on the phone. On my third phone call I reached a company more than willing to help provide a bus at a reasonable price. I booked it immediately. After doing a little happy dance, I sheepishly sat back down and praised God.
How foolish of me. My problem lasted a mere 72 hours. Yet, I turned it into Mount Everest.
The promise of the glorious exchange was never in doubt. Prayer is not a fast food drive thru window. I don’t speak my prayer into the intercom and pick up my answered prayer at the first window. I merely need to trust God.