Continued from yesterday…
Todd Adams clung to the back of the jeep as kidnappers in an African village sped off with his two children strapped in the back seat. He could see his six-year old crying frantically, and prayed for a miracle. And a miracle happened… the kidnappers threw his kids out of the car — they were safe — and sped off. Powerful stuff. I’ll link to his sermon when the Alliance puts it online.
That was Tuesday night.
Margi (my wife) and Kris Flinn (Gordon’s wife) flew in on Tuesday night. But there was a slight complication: their flight from Chicago to Louisville was cancelled. They were extremely resourceful, though, and caught a flight to Lexington, about 1.5 hours away. We picked them up and delivered them to the hotel at about 4:00 a.m…. and skipped some Wed am events. Sorry. But glad to have my wife at my side.
Earlier that day, a few of us took in a minor league baseball game… the Louisville Bats vs. the Pawtucket Sox. A beautiful stadium, great friends, perfect weather, and baseball. Hard to beat. McKinney’s, Swineburnes, Matt Klutz, Gordon Flinn, and me. The home team lost in a one-hitter (top of the ninth, first batter, single up the left field line).
The day I had prepared for, prayed for, anticipated, and dreaded for over a year. The day many of you have prayed for.
Like Frodo with Samwise ascending Mt Doom, I took Margi’s hand and headed to the elevator. We walked the muggy path to the massive convention center. My palms produced little oil slicks. I let go of Margi’s hand. I found the mic guy. He put a mic on my head (this one attached like backward sunglasses with a wire by my mouth, very stable, but not very comfortable) and wired me up. The room buzzed with happy people and started filling up.
We had a pre-service meeting with Gary Benedict, John Soper, Bill Malek, and some others. Gary prayed. We adjourned for the start of the service. I was a little numb, but basically good. Remember, I have fear of public speaking (glossophobia, for people who dig Greek-derived words). The room filled up fast. The buzz grew louder. I hung out with my wife, and the dozen people from Redding. We had saved some good seats.
I have always said that a sermon is like a bad bird that pecks at your head till you preach it. This bird was pecking HARD. I had to get it off me.
My heart was pounding. I must have had a wild look in my eyes, because Hilda Urban, one of our dear friends and church members said, “Bill, just preach to them like you preach to us and you’ll do great.”
Bing! The lights went on. Yeah, I thought. Just preach to them — not like they’re pastors, but like they’re PEOPLE… and God will do what he always does: he will honor his Word.
The bird stopped pecking, and sat quietly on my shoulder, waiting his turn. I asked God Spirit to fill me. The burden was still there, but now the Lord shouldered its weight, not me. Thanks Hilda.
The music started. I forget all the songs, but they included, “In Christ Alone,” one of my favorites. You should hear pastors and missionaries sing! And then some other stuff happened. Right before I preached, we sang, “Days of Elijah,” which got everybody up and happy.
Then it was my turn. The worship team departed the stage, and I climbed 12 steps up, and walked across long, two-level stage to the podium music stand. I was excited, energized, but not freaked out.
I opened my mouth….
To be continued….