Tonight is the first of several articles penned by my dear friend, Joe Widick. Joe taught with me at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee and later became the high school administrator. I was blessed to teach his three children and even teach with one, Lane, here at WCS. Joe is married to the lovely Elaine and serves full time as an elder and minister with the Maple Hill Church of Christ.
I was looking up a passage in the Old Testament for a class I was teaching when I ran across one of those little keepsakes that makes life memorable. The date on the back of the hand drawn picture read 7/13/08. Below that in a child’s handwriting was “To granddaddy from Faith. The picture on the other side was me preaching. I have my tie on; my hands are lifted up like I was making a special point. I had a smile on my face! It is one of those treasures that I have kept and will continue to keep. As this journey develops, and eventually comes to an end, this drawing will be returned to its home inside of my Bible.
One of my roles at Maple Hill is to fill in when the regular minister is away. Most years that means 4-6 times I will be preaching. Being in front of the congregation gives one a special perspective that few get. Everyone is looking in your direction while you have the opportunity to look back at them. I wonder what is on the minds of those who are listening to the lessons. What goes through their minds as the minister makes a point, tells a biblical story or gives an illustration to assure that the listeners understand what is being said. I wonder what Jesus thought as he sat down and began the famous “Sermon on the Mount.” Will these people understand what I am saying? Will they take it with the right spirit? Will they know how much I truly love them and want them to continue to draw closer to God? Will they be offended if I set down and teach? How will they react when I discuss some of the “touchy” subjects like murder, adultery, divorce, swearing. Will they feel the challenge to do even more when it comes time to care for the needy? What if I challenge them to fast, will some complain that that is too much to expect or something that cannot be fit into their schedule. If I discuss prayer will they say we already know about praying? Will I insult them if I quote scripture to help make a point on how to and not to conduct their lives. What if I finish my teaching by telling a simple story to make my final point? Will they be insulted by something like that? My guess is that Jesus looked at the crowd and they looked back and him, and he began to speak, speak from a heart that was filled with love and compassion for mankind.
As I look at the picture Faith drew of me, I wonder what went through my mind that day. Did I preach the truth with love? Did I challenge us as a congregation? Did I make a difference in anyone’s life that day? Reflect often on the words of Paul who quoted Isaiah and said; “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.”
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