Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
(Continued from Part 2) I've always had a favorite hymn--"Blessed Assurance." It was a favorite in the first church I attended, and we sang it frequently. That church is gone now, but every time I hear "Blessed Assurance" it takes me back to when I found God in that little church so many years ago and was baptized. For me, nothing takes me back to a time and a place so quickly as music. It's remarkable to me how music speaks to us in a language all its own. It's no wonder that music is such an important part of our worship--especially in the Baptist church.
So there I was sitting in the front row, next to my friend John, waiting for the time to come when I was to go up and deliver the message. I was nervous. I was sweating. I was feeling a little nauseous at times. All pretty common for me every time I had to get up and speak anywhere for any reason. I was prepared for what was to come. I knew it was a hurtle I had to get over, and by my watch, in less than an hour this preaching thing would be over, and I could walk away. But then something remarkable happened.
There was special music as part of our service that morning. We have an amazing piano player at our church. Her name is Chrissy. And Chrissy sings, too. She was going to sing a duet with our youth pastor Josh. I don't remember them ever doing that before. And they haven't done that since. But that's what they did that morning. And as I sat there dreading what was to come for me, Chrissy and Josh prepared to sing the special music that morning.
And I nearly slide right out of the pew when they started. They were singing "Blessed Assurance."
There's no way they could have known. I'm not sure my wife could tell you what my favorite hymn was. But just as sure as I was sitting there sweating, Chrissy and Josh were singing my favorite hymn. And something clicked with me. I read a book a few years ago called "When God Winks." It was a collection of stories about those coincidences in our life. Are they coincidences, or does God sometimes give us a reassuring wink?
I'm always a little apprehensive about stories like that--stories where it's claimed that God stepped in and made something happen. I do believe that happens. I think we've all heard a story or know of an instance where something happened that just can't be explained. But I don't think every coincidence is God's intervention. But I did sit there wondering somewhat dumbfounded about how it came to pass that these two decided to sing my favorite hymn out of all the hymns they could have picked to sing that morning. I would have to admit I wondered at the time... and a few times since.
A few minutes later, I got up there and delivered the message. And for the first time in my life, I wasn't nervous. Not even a little bit. I was relaxed. They laughed at the funny parts. I didn't stutter and fumble over my notes. I'd always said previously my speeches and presentations were better on paper than in practice. But that morning, the message I delivered was better than what I wrote. Not perfect, but not bad.
And to my amazement when I left the church that morning, I wasn't relieved that it was over and I'd never have to do that again. I was wondering when I might have another chance to preach!
I'll tell you what happened next in Part 4 next week. You can read all the installments in this series at this link: Never Say Never Series
~Todd E. Creason