Yesterday I heard what falls into the category of "skyscraper sermons." That's a sermon that contains story after story. Often there is not much more to the sermon than stories--lots of illustrations, not much content. The text was Matthew 6:25-34, part of the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus is exhorting his listeners not to worry and He calls their attention to the birds and how they are "arrayed" and the flowers of the field and their beauty. My mind went to the beautiful yellow flowers that came up in a bed planted by previous owners of our house and to the birds that frequent our back porch to eat the seed we put out for them. Both remind me of our Creator and His provisions, not only for them, but for us as well.
The sermon was entitled, "Don't Worry, Be Happy," the title of a song several years ago and not a title I would have chosen. Neither would I have chosen the direction the sermon took. In fact, I came away wishing the preacher had dug a little deeper. I wished he had talked about the difference in being happy and being joyful. I wanted him to talk about happiness being a product of external things and joy being a result of trusting God. I am not happy these days with the knowledge that Tom has Parkinson's or that I have cancer. But, I do have joy because I trust God for His provision and try to obey another teaching of Jesus: "Fear not." Apparently Tommy's thoughts were paralleling mine because he wrote me a couple of notes during the sermon and we talked afterwards. I said to him: "Here's the thing. We're here to worship God and the sermon isn't always on target. Mine certainly aren't. But, God's timing is perfect and I needed to be directed to that Scripture today."
Lately I've been consumed with thoughts of things I need to do to get all of our affairs in order--or all the things I think I need to do. Last week I read a novel by a favorite author and it was about a woman whose cancer returned with a venegance and she was dead within two days of finding out. It was a sobering read. Sometimes I forget the realities of the faithfulness of God and the sufficiency of God's grace.
Even a bad sermon can be used to remind us of God's truths. I need to be less critical and more open to learning from God's word.