In the early 1980s, I was preaching in southeastern California in the desert town of Indio, where the summer heat often hits 115° (and higher). The air conditioner was frequently overtaxed. On one hot day, when the unit failed completely, the temperature in the meeting house reminded us why we didn’t want to go to hell. Right before I got up to preach, Jim Burruss led the song – I think it was an unintentional coincidence – “In the desert of sorrow and sin… I thirst, let me drink…”
In the late 1980s, I was preaching in Tustin, CA. Teaching a class one Wednesday night, I was speculating on a certain point. I asked out loud, “Am I all washed up on that?” At that very instant, the church sound system picked up a police transmission. There was static, then a clear voice blurted out, “Yep!” Some of the brethren no doubt thought it was the voice of God!
It was a Sunday morning, I was preaching, and B.J. Cooper was acting up. His dad started to take him from the pew to the cry room in the back of the auditorium. The little guy knew he was about to experience some pain. In a desperate attempt to escape punishment, he blurted out, “Pray for me!”
When I was a kid, maybe about eight years old, my dad gave the invitation talk one Wednesday night. I was on the front pew, feeling sick to my stomach. When we stood to sing the invitation song, I started vomiting. Dad, terrified at the sight and not knowing exactly what to do, signaled for Mom to come to my aid in the front of the auditorium. But she, not knowing what was happening, did not want to “respond to the invitation” at that moment. She thought he was motioning for her to “come forward.” Hmmm…
All of this underscores the “human element.” In our efforts to please God, sometimes we make mistakes, and the outcome may even be downright comical. I have a hunch God understands some of these shortcomings, and perhaps he even laughs with us. Yet even though our attempts to serve him may be feeble, God still loves us dearly and wants us to do our best.