Bo Wagner is pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, NC, a widely traveled evangelist, and the author of several books. His books are available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com
I do not know how things were at your church this past Sunday morning, but at mine, the fire fell even before service began. It was so powerful that many of our people were not even able to get into the sanctuary to worship. In fact, they could not even get into the parking lot.
It really is all in how you phrase things, I guess. Our fire was not a spiritual fire; it was very literal. Two minutes before I finished teaching my Sunday school class, everyone heard a loud boom from outside. I kept my composure, finished the class, then rushed out to see what was happening. As it turns out, a car hauler heading down Highway 74 with a load of cars on the back had apparently had the back brakes lock up. A tire blew, he managed to skid everything right across the entrance to our driveway, and then it caught fire.
I grabbed a fire extinguisher off of the wall and started sprinting down our long hill like an aging Emmitt Smith in cowboy boots.
Weird thoughts run through a preacher’s mind at moments like that, things like “I am glad I am running downhill rather than uphill,” and “Things like this never happen to Methodists,” and “I am going to fall and cut a bunch of somersaults and have this extinguisher go off everywhere and end up on a never dying viral video.”
Fortunately, I made it down the hill intact and emptied our extinguisher on the fire. It put the fire out for a few seconds – and then it came roaring back to life. So now I was panting for air, my suit was covered in white powder, our driveway was blocked, and a bunch of our people were driving past the driveway, unsure of what to do next.
Volunteer firemen started arriving within minutes. But by the time the tanker trucks arrived, the entire mess was a raging inferno. Tires and hydraulic hoses were exploding at random moments. Our local firefighters quickly jumped into action and turned the contents of two tankers loose on the fire. Stunningly, the fire still would not go out.
It gets even better. One fireman whom I happen to know very well, since he is also a member of my church, rushed by me to help and said, “I may be a few minutes late, Preacher!”
Finally, another tanker arrived with some kind of foam mixture, and the fire was quickly extinguished. But that did not change the fact that the highway was shut down; several wreckers were arriving to attempt to remove the vehicles from the hauler and then remove the hauler from the scene. I, then, was tasked with hiking back up the hill and getting service started with some of our people who could not be there in time for Sunday school stuck in traffic under the actual shadow of our steeple.
Bible college and seminary prepared me for exegesis and hermeneutics and homiletics but did nothing to prepare me for raging infernos in the driveway on a Sunday morning. Truthfully, though, that is just one of a great many things they could never have prepared me for, like having to shoot a groundhog (long story), being bitten by a mole, people playing c-keyed harmonicas during e flat songs, food stamps in the offering plate, Batman in our youth choir, a naked homeless guy plopping down on my couch, and threats against my children left on the answering machine only to have the next message be, “Um, sorry, I think I dialed the wrong church. Y’all have an awesome day!”
Ministry is many things; boring is not one of those things.
And all of this is one reason why the medicine of Proverbs 17:22 is so good both for ministry and life. It says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” You and I can either go through life constantly strung up as tight as a violin string, filled with stress and anxiety over what may happen next, or we can learn to embrace each day and recognize the unexpected moments of crazy as opportunities to smile, laugh, make jokes, and be joyful.
So take a deep breath today, and remind yourself that you may well deal with fires or floods or accidentally hacking someone else’s website (another long story) or crazy people or unhinged animals before the day is out and that it may well be God’s way of telling you that boredom is nothing but a grave for living people.
Pastor Wagner can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his books are available by clicking the “Store” link above.
Feature photo by Pastor Bo Wagner