For anyone who is struggling with the frustrating sense of uselessness let me tell you about my good friend Ann. Ann* (not her real name) passed away just before Valentine’s day. For the last three years she came almost every week to our church service in the respiratory unit at the nursing home. Because of her trach it was hard to understand much of what Ann said. But Ann has changed the world. Her consistent faithful presence was noticed by her daughter who also began coming many Wednesday afternoons.
I love Joni’s tribute because she says it all better than I. I personally and we as the church have been forever blessed by the gift God gave us in the person and ministry of Billy Graham. He was a simple man who seemed to always be there in the back ground of our lives. He committed himself to Jesus and to integrity and teamwork in a way that we so desperately need more of in the church today. His work is now done. The legacy left behind and the torch is passed to us. We pause to honor a the memory of Billy Graham tonight but we must also ponder the responsibility now fallen to us. We cannot dwell on the past because souls of men and women are passing into eternity every moment. Who will go to this generation?
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8
I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope Psalm 130:5 KJV
When we were young many of us used to song: “The B-I-B-L-E, Yes! that’s the book for me. I stand alone on the word of God, The B-I-B-L-E!” Today as we are older, whether we are looking out the window at a nursing home or looking out the window at work or school we all sometimes wonder how we will make it. Where will we get the strength just to keep putting one foot in front of the other?
It is easier facing outward conflicts because at least we can see the enemy we are fighting. But when things seem dark and confusing on the inside then there are moments when we feel as if things are hopeless. God’s word gives us this promise from King David who found that his greatest enemies were bigger than the giant Goliath whom he had faced on the battlefield. David’s battle with sin, failure, and shame left him wondering how he could face his family, his friends and his responsibility as a leader and example for others.
At his darkest moment David remembers that the same God who had given him hope when he fought the giant with a sling had also promised him forgiveness and restoration when he had sinned. God’s word isn’t weakened by our failures, doubts or needs. There is no limit to how much God can restore and His promises are not a limited time offer. You haven’t missed your chance to ask God for His help. Today is the perfect day in all eternity to put your hope in His word!
“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Luke 15:4-5 NKJV
Hi! “I’m Helen*. I’m from Kaiser Valley!” she greets me every week. Helen (not her real name) is perky, funny, and she now lives in
the Alzheimer’s ward at the nursing home I visit. Helen has an amazing memory for the verses of all the hymns. For most of her life, Helen attended church,sang in the choir, gave her offerings and like so many others she never once receives a visit from her pastor.
Being a pastor isn’t an easy job. Most people don’t understand the pressures, the demands and the temptations that we face every week. But pastors are also shepherds and as shepherds we are called to help to take care of sheep. Some sheep pay their tithes faithfully, dress nicely and shake our hands to tell us they loved the message. But some sheep lose their way. In this parable Jesus is talking about a lost sheep just like my friend Helen from Kaiser Valley. She is a sheep who has wandered off a little too far. One day she looked around and the rest of the flock was gone! There were no familiar landmarks. She cannot find anyone to help her find her way home. What all the Helens and Bobs and Alices and Marys need are shepherds who will come looking for them. Do not take this message as just another guilt trip, but rather as a gentle encouragement to remember how joyful it is when Jesus finds any one of us. Remember that the business of finding lost sheep is a great joy for both the shepherd and the sheep!