January 8, 2017 - Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee….” Hebrews 13:5
Soon after I preached my first sermon in Center, Texas, the pastor of The Baptist Church in Hornbeck, La. invited me to preach an evening service for him. The next Saturday I “thumbed a ride” from a soldier on his way back to his unit at Fort Polk, La. His ’41 Ford’s speedometer was so loud that we had to shout to be heard. Just as passed through Fisher, La. , the car went “Ka-BOOM” …and we both shouted “YAAAAA!”” when we realized the cable had finally snapped. An hour later he dropped me off at Hornbeck and I found Deacon Green’s house and spent the night.
I could hardly believe my eyes when I entered the sanctuary Sunday evening! It was packed with young people… elderly people …children…and a large number of soldiers from nearby Fort Polk. After the music service, the Pastor introduced me and I walked to the pulpit… opened my Bible ….and went completely blank! I finally managed to read my text and stuttered through a five minute sermon. As the pastor prayed the closing prayer, I slipped out the side door and headed toward the highway. Running up behind me, the Pastor slipped a $10 check in my pocket and said, “Thank you for doing a good job, Son”. After thanking him, I hurried to the highway and caught a ride home.
This all happened when I was 18 years old…the year was 1949….that was 67 years ago! During my many years, I have rehearsed what happened that day in Hornbeck many times. It was always how I felt …what the Pastor thought and what the people must have thought that that bothered me. But I finally asked myself the most important question…the one that I had completely overlooked all these years: What did God think that night? I suddenly realized that God did not require that I be successful or that I produce great results…he just required that I live up to the light He had given me and to be faithful.
So this is what I now know about that night. When I stuttered through that sermon…. when I slipped out that door in embarrassment…when I was worrying about what the people thought…when I made my way to the dark highway that night….. I was never alone. The same Savior that saved my soul was walking with me all the time .…..
….and I didn’t even realize it.