A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.
I cooked way too much spaghetti. Well, I guess it is all official. Things are back to normal. You see, I am a pastor/teacher/preacher. That means I have the privilege of serving with a bunch of people in a church and have the opportunity to share truth from the Bible…sometimes several times a week. It is something that I truly enjoy. When I am sharing something and see the expression on someone’s face change, as if to say, “I get it,” well, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Actually, pastoring is my second career. I spend twelve years in the Air Force and just loved it and then God came up with another idea. I separated from the Air Force and became a pastor. That was 40 years ago. Wow…that sounds like a long time but really it seems like yesterday. When I first starting preaching, my sermons were like 23 minutes long and sometimes that seemed like an eternity…for me and probably for them. Over the years, things have gotten, well, longer. Someone once said, “The longer you preach, the longer you preach.” I believe I can testify to that.
So, before the COVID thing happened, my sermons ran 40-45 minutes. People were kind and most were even grateful for the message but there’s another old saying that says, “Never speak longer than the audience’s seat can bear.” Well, let’s just same I probably reached and exceeded that limit. So, when COVID came along and we were on Facebook only, I made a concerted effort to preach a little shorter…usually about 35 minutes. I was so proud of myself…and then…one day, happened.
One day, I cooked too much spaghetti. Now that is “code” that I simply prepared too much material. Even before Sunday, I had cut about 20 percent of the material and I thought that would do it. It didn’t. The bottom line is that I preached, gulp, 45 minutes. Oh my. I don’t think I chased too many rabbits—it was just too much spaghetti. At the end of the service, I told the folks that I appreciated their patience. They are such a gracious group of people. I also smiled and told them that it was a great sign that things were definitely back to normal.
I always greet the people as they leave after the service, and something happened that particular day that still has me smiling. The mother of one of our members was in the service. I know her and well, she is a friend and a very special lady. Her husband had passed away and I was privileged to have a part in his service. As she shook my hand, she shared that because of having to care for her husband and for health reasons she hadn’t been in church for several years. Then she explained how each week she was sure to listen to our service, and me, on the radio. I smiled and said how grateful I was. And then she said, “You know, I sure enjoyed today but you know, at home, I can just turn the radio off when I am ready.” I laughed, she laughed, and everyone who was standing in earshot did too. It was a precious moment, and it made my day.
This story isn’t about sermons, long or short, but rather it is about the fact that life is back…not totally normal, but I believe something better than what it was. I’ve said it so many times, it won’t be the same and in some ways that is not bad. In fact, in some ways, it is just better. I believe the COVID experience has taught us to love God better and love people better. I believe the COVID year has taught us to appreciate the small things in life that make life better.
So, there you go. This week my goal is to preach a little shorter and laugh a little more. After all the Bible tells us that a cheerful heart is good medicine and I just tend to believe what it says. We can laugh, even in our hot mess world, because ultimately, we are certain of one thing—He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne