I remember is seminary something the professor who taught the preaching class said. He said when a sermon is over and church is over, forget about it. And he didn’t mean don’t remember the message, but sometimes pastors can over analyze the sermon. Sometimes a preacher can wonder if it made any difference or if anyone remembered anything or if it made any difference to anyone.
Once in a while, someone is paying attention. It reminds me of a story I heard one time about a president in the mid 1900’s. I don’t know if it’s true, but it is funny. I should have used this illustration in church yesterday about listening for God. (And there I go over analyzing.) The president was convinced that nobody paid any attention to what he said when they met him. This particular president was in a receiving line and as each person came through he said, “I hit my mother in law with a ball bat this morning.” One by one people would say, “Thank you, Mr. President.” “That’s nice, Mr. President.” Nobody was listening until one person finally said, “I’m sure she had it coming to her Mr. President.”
One person came to me yesterday and told me that last week I said, “God said I’m going to show you who I am and then He sent Jesus.” She thought I should put it in the bulletin or somewhere in the church. It’s nice when you realize someone was listening and remembered something, but what’s more comforting is that God says in Isaiah 55:11,
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
That sort of takes the pressure off us when we are preaching or witnessing or working for Jesus. We say it and it’s up to God to do with it what He will. We just have to be faithful to speak it, even when it’s difficult to say and/or to hear. And it’s often difficult in the church and to your friends. And as Phil Robertson said, “You love them more than you fear them, so you tell them.” And then let God do with it what He will. Someone may be paying attention.