The Journey: A Story About Getting Out of the Way

Last time, I promised to tell a story about getting out of the way and letting the Holy Spirit work.  In this particular case, I was doing a fill-in sermon for a brother who was out-of-town.  I realize that not everyone is going to fill in for a Sunday sermon, but I think the principle applies in many other areas, so here goes.929 112-LR

About 18 months ago I filled in for a preacher who was out-of-town, and took his next text in a sermon series on Luke, but this far out, I can’t recall what the exact text was…  That morning, the music was unbelievable; better than it ever had been and it seemed somehow enhanced.  A few others had speaking roles before it was my turn, and there seemed to be something extra in all of them that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, something unusual in a good way.  When it was time for the sermon to begin, I got up and began to speak, but very quickly, I was all messed up.  I lost my place, forgot what was next in my outline and realized that I had entirely lost focus.  So you’ll know, I never lose my place, and I never lose focus when in front of a room; is was a little disconcerting actually.  Later, people told me that they hadn’t noticed anything going wrong, but in my mind, I was near panic!

I set my text down and sat on the back of a chair, and with my feet in the seat in front of me, I just began to share with the people.  I remember being surprised at what was coming out of my mouth and at what was rushing through my mind as I went along, but I couldn’t help but notice that people were really paying attention.  It felt almost like I was watching somebody else talk that morning, and eventually I noticed that I was wrapping up. I moved right into an old-fashioned invitation, and on cue, everyone stood and sang the song; no one came forward, so I said a few words and we sang it again; this time someone came forward. I’m not sure why, but I had them sing the song again and this time a whole family came forward.  We did the song again and someone else came forward; then I knew we were finished. It was surreal that day.

When the preacher returned, he called me and asked what had happened; everyone was talking about last Sunday saying that the Holy Spirit had been so obviously at work… “What did you do?”

I told him the truth, all I had done was screw up a perfectly good sermon! Somebody else did the rest of course.

This is not the only time that this kind of thing has happened to me, but it usually happens when I’m teaching, since that was my normal role, but it’s always the same sort of thing, I find myself surprised by what I’m saying and yet I know it’s “right” and just let it go on until it’s finished; then there is an amazing reaction from the people. I must point out here that I have teaching as a spiritual gift which does make a difference, but you must understand that I didn’t really do anything other than get ready to rock and roll.  Am I special?  No, not at all.  Am I unique?  Hardly!  I’m simply a brother in Christ who is trying to serve, who makes plenty of mistakes and screws up royally from time to time… just like you.

It is awesome to see God working in His church, and I only wish more of us would be willing to let go of a little control and let Him work. As for our journey, this is the biggest “drink” I’ve ever found, seeing God at work in the lives of those in my church family.

 

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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10 Responses to The Journey: A Story About Getting Out of the Way

  1. paulfg says:

    “the principle applies in many other areas” and ” let go of a little control and let Him work”. We pray for it, we hope for it, we listen for it, and then too often fight it when the spirit says “ok”. Thank you. A useful lesson to remember.

  2. dirofpr says:

    Cool – this same thing happened to me in class last Monday night! I had prayed so hard about the final session of our class, and it was as if I was standing back just watching it all unfold. In the process of sharing ethical dilemma stories, the students’ needs and answers were connected. All I did was pray and show up. I remember thinking, “where is all this stuff I’m saying coming from?” I find that happens when there’s a lot of Scripture used. God’s Word never returns void!

  3. It’s great when we let the Holy Spirit takes control, that often happens to my pastor he feels to chuck his notes and go with the spirit and wr have had some powerful God encountering nights, it’s happened to me once when I shared the word,
    Thanks for sharing that.
    God bless you and your ministry.
    🙂

  4. I love when the Holy Spirit takes over, Still learning to release my need for control though 🙂

  5. n3v3rm0r3 says:

    I have often found myself relying on my own will, and in hindsight realizing that if I’d only gotten out of the Lord’s way, things would have gone so more smoothly. When I remember to trust in the Lord, the outcome is always a blessing, even if I may not recognize it as such at the time. Your post spoke straight to my heart. Thank you!

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