A few weeks ago Ruthie and I had the privilege of speaking at one of the myriad of annual Adventist camp meetings in the Midwest. Actually she did most of the speaking; I served more as the designated driver. We love those seasons of summer. Reminds us of the special weeks and week ends God set aside for Israel on their wilderness trek when they could enjoy a respite from the routine and just bask in the God who was their ever-present Guide. We like that they came together to remember and to celebrate.
But the most interesting thing happened on the way to the office. Let me explain. We had been on campus a day or so when I began to recall I had seen this place before. Then I remembered. More than forty years before, I had been invited to this same campus to lead a week of spiritual emphasis for the couple of hundred students who were attending the Christian high school here. I think it was the second night, I had walked the halls in the boys’ dorm talking to the guys, listening, praying with some. It was really late when I finally went to the guest room (which, oddly, was just behind the stage of the chapel) and crawled into bed.
The chapel service was the first event scheduled the next morning and since I’m generally an early riser, I figured it would work well… I’d roll out at the first sound of life on campus, get ready and step on to the stage. Voila – chapel.
But I got to bed really late, remember. The first sound I heard was the piano playing the prelude as the students filed in and took their seats. Now what? I grabbed my pants and shirt, slipped into my shoes without sox, combed my hair with my fingers, picked up my Bible and made my unshaven appearance. No one laughed; few even knew. Till I began to speak.
I suppose I talked for about thirty minutes. I have no idea what I said. I don’t think they knew, either. I doubt many lives where changed that day, probably as few as none. I had prepared the topic, but it wasn’t fresh. I learned a lesson I’ve never forgotten: If you do not step into the pulpit fresh from the presence of God it is best if you stay home. This truth is indisputable: If you are a pastor, a Bible teacher, or on any other heavenly assignment, the secret to effectiveness is to linger longer.
By Don Jacobsen