This past Sunday at my church was a train wreck. It started off bad, and then steam rolled out of control as the service progressed.
To begin with, I was running late that morning. When we arrived to set up at the middle school we rent each Sunday, we noticed the media cart with the connections to the auditorium’s video projector was missing. Gone. Nowhere to be found. Without it, it would be impossible to project the songs we picked out onto our video screen, and throw a huge monkey-wrench in my worship plan. Also, I’d spent most of the day on Saturday editing a video that set up the sermon perfectly. So much for planning ahead.
But this just served as an opportunity to send my incredible volunteers into action. These resourceful men found a way to attach a patch cord directly into the projector that was mounted in the auditorium’s ceiling. It would have to hang down awkwardly in the center of the front row, but it was certainly better than no video at all. What a team!
As we got into the worship music of the service, some sound system problems caused the music to suddenly boost to an uncomfortable level. When I turned my wireless mic on later at the start of the sermon, the irritating noise of feedback filled the room. But that was not the worst crisis to befall me that morning…
My hair gel failed.
Yes, to any other pastor, this would be a minor irritation if not left completely unnoticed. But I have really big, full hair. And only healthy helpings of hair gel will keep it all in place (wow, that was really an awfully awkward amount of alliteration).
We ship it to my home on trucks, in large, industrial-sized containers. I’m only slightly kidding.
So as I’m preaching, my hair begins to fall in my face. Sure, a really desperate bar fly might think it looked sexy coming down in my eyes, but “sexy” is not really the look pastors are going for.
Well, not most pastors, at least.
Now I am continually running my fingers through it, trying to get it to stay up on my head. Fail. Trying again. Failing again. Now I resemble a bad Cab Calloway impersonator. I’m surprised now one yelled out for me to sing “Minnie the Moocher”.
Then, my cell phone which is set on the pulpit gives off a little “notification ring”. I laugh to the congregation, “Oh, who would be texting the pastor during his sermon?” So being the easily distracted child that I am, I pick it up to read it in front of the whole congregation.
“Stop messing with your hair. It looks fine” – a text from my wife.
The room explodes. More laughs than any sermon joke I’ve ever told. I don’t think Osteen ever got as big a response in that Superdome-type thingy he preaches in.
Then several minutes later, as I’m getting toward the big conclusion of the message…THE POWER GOES OUT! Sounds, lights, everything. More laughter, until finally everything came back on. I finished the message, gave an invitation, and saw people come forward to respond. God answered some prayers that day I had been praying for over a year. Wow.
Interestingly enough, the sermon was on following Jesus and letting Him make your life an adventure, “walking on water”, taking risks, and living in the moment. And what God had just done is illustrate my sermon better than any pastor could ever expect!
I imagine if Peter hadn’t stepped out of the boat that night around 3am with Jesus, there would not have been another opportunity. He saw his opening, he asked Jesus if it was OK, then he just stepped out into the Sea of Galilee. He didn’t wait for good conditions. In fact, the conditions were the worst possible for water walking – a storm. Yet he took hold of the opportunity in the midst of an imperfect situation and became one of only two people to ever be held upright by nothing but H2O (magicians and smart-alecks who add corn starch to the water excepted…you can find those jokers on YouTube).
I want to live a life like that – something that’s worth telling my grandkids about one day. How I stepped on a crazy whim and went on an adventure with Jesus. And together, we changed the world! Well, mostly Him…but I helped.
Last Sunday morning, our service was a “hot mess” as my 21 year old daughter would say. But I went with the flow and had one of my best preaching experiences ever. Lives were changed and I left invigorated and inspired. The best parts of it were completely unplanned, spontaneous, and out-of-control. It was something only God could have done…through me.
This is the life Jesus is calling you to – a messy, random, magical existence.
An unpredictable comedy of errors you could never plan in a million years. A story too unlikely and amazing to be believed. And yet it is happening right before your eyes.
Stop over-planning. Stop worrying. Embrace the chaos. Enjoy the ride.
Then tell your grandkids.
CLICK HERE FOR DAVE’S SERMON By the way, here’s a link to Dave’s “hot mess” sermon from that fateful Sunday morning.