Sunday, September 25, 2005

When It's Best Not to Preach

I was supposed to preach this morning in Monatele.

For some reason, I struggled to figure out exactly which sermon to preach. Since I'm not a local church pastor, I don't have to preach every Sunday, which means I'm not in the weekly discipline of writing and studying. And so I keep a handful of sermons ready to be used at any given time and place, depending on the Spirit's leading.

But I was getting nothing for this morning's appearance. When I went to bed last night, I was clueless about what to preach. When I woke up this morning, I had a topic in mind, but I still felt unsure.

Shortly before I left, I printed out a copy of a sermon that I'd preached several months ago, because it seemed right for the situation. And I got in the car with Alexis, my translator.

The drive to Monatele is nearly an hour and fifteen minutes. Alexis was excited about some preaching he'd done recently at his own church, a Pentecostal place on the other side of town. He began to tell me about his week, and the various ways God had been speaking to him.

And it hit me there in the front seat ... Alexis was supposed to preach! He had the appropriate word from the Lord for the morning. I turned around and said, "Alexis, I think you need to preach in Monatele today. Everything you have said is what I was feeling in my heart, but you have said it so much better than I could. Will you preach?"

He said, "Of course." Boy, he did, too. It was a powerful sermon, and the tiny congregation of 18 responded enthusiastically. He spoke on the need for Christians to live in Christ "day and night," on the need to follow Christ every moment of the day.

It was the right man, speaking the right word, at the right time, in the right place. Praise be to God!

Sometimes you just gotta know when it's best not to preach.