Ups and downs

Published 8:05 pm Monday, April 9, 2018

Years ago, I’d been invited to preach one of the Holy Week sermons in Brunswick, and after the message, a man walked up to me. 

He told me he’d been listening to sermons for more than 80 years, and mine was the best one he’d ever heard. I like to tell that story first. Then I talk about the sermons when I wished there was a back door I could use. Amazingly, some of my best sermons were the ones I simply sat down and wrote out, and some of the worst were the ones I spent weeks working on?

As much as I love science, it can’t explain everything. It can’t define love. It can’t understand grace or mercy. It can explain the planets and the stars, but it can’t explain that feeling you get when you look up into the night sky. Science can explain how babies are made, but it can’t explain the feeling you get when you, for the first time, hold your newborn son in your arms or the first time you hold your newborn grandson in your arms or that time your grandson yelled “Buddy!” and ran into your arms when you picked him up at pre-school. Science can neither explain nor understand those things.

Several years ago, Tiger Woods was the best golfer in the world. On Saturday, at the Master’s, he was four over par and tied for 40th place with Dechambeau and Grace. And you know about bad days. The hitter who can’t hit the ball. The runner who can’t find an open hole, the receiver who can’t hold on to the ball. The pitcher who can’t find the plate. The preacher who can’t find an ending to his sermon, and we’ve all heard about those bad hair days. Science can’t explain why everything goes perfectly and precisely one day and crashes the next day, but Elijah can.

“Then Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Now stay here; the Lord has ordered me to go to the Jordan River.’ But Elisha answered, ‘I swear by my loyalty to the living Lord and to you that I will not leave you.’ So they went on, and 50 of the prophets followed them to the Jordan. Elijah and Elisha stopped by the river, and the 50 prophets stood a short distance away. Then Elijah took off his cloak, rolled it up, and struck the water with it; the water divided, and he and Elisha crossed to the other side on dry ground.” (2 Kings 2)

You remember Elijah. One day he defeated the prophets of Baal by calling down fire from heaven to burn up sacrifices soaked in water and then called down rain from the heavens. The next day, he’s alone and depressed and feeling sorry for himself. So, even the greatest prophet in the Old Testament had bad days. I think the message is, that even if we let God down, he never lets us down. 

God is faithful even when we are not.