I am grateful. Many of you have joined me in prayer that God would help me through this recovery and that I would be able to return to my preaching ministry. This past Sunday I preached my first post-surgery sermon. The text was Matthew 6:25-34. That passage of scripture contains Jesus’ famous words regarding worry. “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear… But seek first [your heavenly Father’s] kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:25,33). This part of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount ends with his less well known words: “Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
So often we struggle to accept the fact that however faithful to God we may be, we still have trouble. Every day! The curse of sin still ruins the fields and we experience the same sorts of difficulties and thorny challenges that Adam did. Work is toilsome and we eat by the sweat of our brows. (Genesis 3:17-19). Each day has trouble enough of its own.
When Your Days Have Trouble, Bob Bjerkaas:
And yet, Jesus gives us good cause to lay aside worry and focus instead on God’s kingdom and righteousness. In my first recovery sermon, I wanted to unpack this wonderful possibility. Too often our theology comes more from reggae music than from scripture. We settle for “Don’t worry, be happy” when we should be aiming for “Don’t worry, seek God.” The sermon had for its title “When Your Days Have Trouble.” And this lent itself to a wonderfully funny mash up!
The powers that be very kindly wanted to announce two things on the monument sign in front of our church. They wanted to welcome their pastor back, and they wanted to note the sermon title for this week’s sermon. So the text on the sign read: “Welcome Back Pastor! When Your Days Have Trouble.” The sign elicited more than a few chuckles! Laughter is a priceless gift that God has given us and a good sense of humor is a blessing indeed.
I received another gift later on Monday. My good friend Tarik, who has been my lacrosse coaching partner for over ten years now, sent me a picture of something he bought for me that had just arrived. A megaphone. While it would of course be illegal to use on the sideline in a game, it will be interesting to experiment with it on the practice field. It is a Croove Portable Megaphone with Siren. I am trying to decide what the siren will be used for. Maybe instead of calling out foul language (which can result in an unsportsmanlike penalty on game day if a ref hears it), I can just hit the siren and the voluntary conditioning can begin… The Oak Park Lacrosse Team does have the cleanest language of any lacrosse team we compete against. They have been well drilled in the truism that self-control begins with the mouth. And for ten years the boys in this program have been discovering that if they can control their mouths, they can control their lives.
Speaking of mouths, on Monday and on Tuesday, kids used their mouths to really get my attention.
On Monday, I was talking to my youngest son, Nat. We were talking about how I couldn’t eat everything I used to and how my voice was different. I asked him if it bothered him that I no longer sounded the same. He replied, “I can’t remember what you used to sound like. Just like I can’t remember what Jacob (one of his best friends) looked like three years ago.”
Acknowledging the past but living in the present. Accepting that things change and that they will not stay the same. We had a very thoughtful conversation about how we will always be changing throughout this life. Some positive changes, some not so positive. But we are still ourselves!
On Tuesday night Kerrie and I stopped by a parishioner’s house for a pastoral visit. I had been very busy all day Tuesday with visits, and my voice was fading. In fact something new and troubling was taking place. I was once again having trouble moving my tongue and the left side of my mouth was numb and tingly – like I had been given a Novocain shot. I will be asking my doctor and therapist about this. Kerrie thinks I pushed too hard that day and need to limit my verbally intensive pastoral interactions.
Well, as the visit was wrapping up my speech was a little bit slurred and in order to help his pastor, Hemansh, who just turned eleven years old last month, volunteered to close in prayer! What a blessing to have this young boy minister to his family and to his pastor. I did join Hemansh in prayer for his family after his wonderful prayer – but what a wonderful pastoral experience – Thank you Lord!
Again, thank you all for your prayers. I think I am coming up on returning my blog’s focus to more general pastoral and devotional themes. This has been a wonderful tool to not only record for myself some hopefully unique experiences, but to keep in touch with my friends and families. I hope and pray that all of you are seeking and finding God’s sovereign will in your lives and worlds as you faithfully deal with the troubles you face from day to day!
N.B. Kerrie took this fine picture of our church monument sign.