Sometimes a person has to wonder what the Holy Spirit is doing. Sometimes the weeks meld together, the daily routine rolls into a weekly routine and things become normal; then something happens that is out of the ordinary.
It is at these moments I wonder what is God doing? What is He trying to teach me? What is He trying to teach someone through me?
My usual routine for preparing the sermons I preach is a combination of prayer and study over the course of several days. The notes I take to the pulpit are minimal, usually, just a list of verses I plan to use and a phrase or sentence of the thought I’m trying to emphasize. Many times, the Holy Spirit has spoken to me as I approach the pulpit, and the notes will never come out, and I preach what the Holy Spirit lays on my heart at the time.
This week was a bit different. I had Sunday morning planned, but honestly, I wasn’t all that confident in my preparation for Sunday night’s message. Like I said, I pray, I study, I pray some more. The process takes several days, and the Spirit will guide and usually around Friday night I know what Sunday’s sermons will be. However, this week, after a lot of prayer, I had decided just to continue in the chapter I ended Sunday morning with and just allow the Spirit to work. I had an idea of the direction the message would go, but something wasn’t right, and I didn’t know what or why.
Our church is tiny, and this Sunday attendance was even smaller than normal. One family is vacationing in Florida; another was visiting relatives.
Sunday evening another family while on the way to church stopped to help a car on the side of the road. They texted us of the situation and that they would be late. I explained to the people at church what was going on, and everyone agreed to wait until they arrived. We had a good time of fellowship, chatting and talking. When our good Samaritans walked in we started services about 20 minutes late.
When I approach the pulpit I had an idea of where the sermon will go, but it took, I believe by the Spirit of God, a different direction. Before I realized it, I was preaching about the Holy Spirit living inside of us and working through us. I was about 15 minutes into the sermon; I was giving an illustration about our hands being the hands the Holy Spirit has to use. Our feet are His feet. It was at that moment the door opened. A woman walked in; she appeared to be around 70 years of age. She seemed hesitant. From the pulpit, I asked if we could help her.
She apologized for interrupting the services. She explained that they were traveling to Kentucky (the Kentucky border is about a three-hour drive from us) and needed money for gas and food.
I told her to have the other two people with her to come in; the service would be over in about 15 minutes. When the services end, I would follow her to the gas station and fill up their tank; then we could go to a fast food joint, and they could get what they wanted to eat and be on their way.
She went outside to tell the people in the car what I said. As soon as the door shut, we all prayed for their souls and the life situation they were experiencing. It was sad when a few seconds after the “Amen” everyone in the church heard the engine start and the sound of tires exiting the gravel parking lot. One person went out the door to look, but they were nowhere in sight.
At that point, there was no sermon left in me. The congregation and I chatted about the Holy Spirit and being benevolent. We decided the situation was handled properly. The overall emotion was disappointment that they refused our help.
The prophet Joel said, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14). Assuming the woman was telling us the truth, they could have had their needs met if only they would sit in a pew for 15 minutes. God gave them a choice, and they drove away.
The Spirit was working. If it weren’t for the broken down car one church family stopped to help, church would have been already over when our elderly lady arrived.
Often we don’t notice or don’t consider that God is involved, but every decision we’re faced with comes from God. In one form or another, we choose Him or no. How often have you simply driven away?