Memories and The Comfort of God’s Grace
I wanted to preach a sermon I first delivered many years ago. I could not remember the date and at that time there were no computers. All of my sermons then were hand-written. As it turns out I first preached that particular sermon in 1974 when I first started preaching. I remembered the title but could not put my finger on my notes from that day over 41 years ago. The shelves of binders containing the notes from every sermon I have ever preached line my bookshelves and seem to call out to me, “This is your life!” I had to go through every single one of those early sermons page by page to see if I could locate that particular message.
As I began this tedious exercise I could not help but stop on just about every page and take a walk down memory lane. I have served only four churches in my career of over 45 years. Each of these four congregations held their own unique identity. As I gazed at these old sermons I could still see the people to whom I preached them. White, black, Asian, Hispanic, old, young, sick, healthy, rich and poor all of whom faithfully gave me one hour of their time every week for over 45 years to hear what I have to say to them, better yet, what the Holy Spirit had to say to them through the foolishness of my preaching.
I paused and prayed, “Lord, did I lead them rightly? Did I tell them the truth? Was my doctrine pure? Was pride my root sin? Did any of it make a difference in their lives? Was I faithful to the Word? Should I have been softer? Harder? Quieter? Less prophetic? More prophetic? Should I have made a bigger deal out of grace? Law? Was I balanced? There were many questions as I turned each page. I spent so many hours each week laboring over texts looking for meaning and even hidden meaning in each word of thousands of verses and virtually every book in the Bible.
Then the Lord brought to mind this verse taken from the parable of the talents…
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:21 ESV)
What strikes me about that verse is the word “LITTLE.” My life can be summarized that way – a LITTLE! And I thought it was a life filled with a LOT! But compared to the glory that shall be revealed all that I did to serve the King was but a LITTLE. All of those meetings, church building, church planting, counseling sessions, studying both formally and privately, preaching, teaching, witnessing, suffering, heartache, brokenness, sinful struggles, trusting, obeying, confessing and those many nights with tears on my pillow all amount to what God calls a LITTLE!
But what does He mean by the word MUCH? What is the MUCH I will rule over? In this season of life, I’m grateful for the challenge to look back and process and review but even more to hear the Lord encourage me that though I imperfectly served Him, though I made many mistakes and still need His a lot of His spiritual sand paper, He sees me through the grid of Grace. In spite of my flaws, He loves me. And He calls me to trust Him with that “little” and all of the mess ups, because He promises His children so much more.
I’m so grateful to be…
In His Grip,
Dr. Chuck F. Betters
For more information from In His Grip with Dr. Chuck F. Betters please visit http://www.markinc.org/