Two weeks ago, the Coordinator in my fellowship informed me that he would like me to preach the following Sunday. I always believe that an instruction from him to preach is divinely orchestrated from God and so though I bantered at first, I obliged and got home, praying that God gives me a focus for His people based on the theme that we were focusing on for the month in the fellowship.
Preparing for messages isn’t the easiest thing if we want to be honest cause it’s beyond cramming the right things to say, but becoming so familiar with the message the Spirit of God is delivering to you and ensuring it goes as pure as it comes to the listeners, so usually, more prayer than reading is what I advise because I see God gives me direction more in prayer than in my study. Usually study just concretises what I’ve already been told in prayer.
Fast forward to two days to Sunday, I was mostly prepared, just wrapping up my notes as well as still praying for myself and the listeners that God will just have His way.
My fellowship leaders, along with a large number of our members had travelled to Liverpool the Thursday leading up to the Sunday for a conference and were expected to return the same Sunday I was going to preach, probably a couple of hours before church started which is 6pm every Sunday. I didn’t go on this trip as I had to stay back to write an exam which was happening while they were away.
So on Sunday, at about 5pm, I received a text from one of our overseers saying that they were running late, so I assumed it was probably just by a few minutes and would be in by the time praise and worship was over in church.
At around 5:25pm, fully prepared by Gods grace, with the message in heart and the Spirit in me, I made my way to church to find only 2 of our instrumentalists setting up the sound system for service. They had also spoken to someone who was away with most of the church in Liverpool and the person had informed them that they were actually 3 hours away as they made a stop to see a former member on the way back, which took more time and meant that they were not going to be back before the service finished.
I don’t know why, but my just heart sank, and I started to rumble a bit about why they would make such an impromptu decision to stop and see someone when they were suppose to be back in time for service. Anyone listening to me would assume my frustration was with the impromptu planning and late return, but in the next 25 minutes of worship that ensued, God literally showed me my own heart, He said ‘Rubie, you’re more concerned that you don’t have enough people in your audience for the message than you are about the fact that they’re running late’. My eyes were actually closed but it was as if someone tapped me and said those words and I knew somewhere deep inside me, that was the truth.
I started to plead for mercy and God did a whole sermon for me in my heart the next 20 minutes on how ‘Faithfulness with 4 is actually equated to faithfulness with 40 in the kingdom‘. If the number in an audience affected me or my delivery, there’s no certainty that even in 40 or 400, I will also not be affected. I was almost crying and I just surrendered there and there to God and I told Him that even if it was 1 person, I would preach the message He had given me with all fervour and joy just as I would have if the whole church was present.
God comforted me in worship and I had a change of heart and I was now excited to preach to whoever turned up, even though over half of the members were not going to be in the service. I resolved to be faithful in the little.
What’s the point of this narrative? The real reasons behind some of our irritations and anger is actually deeply rooted sin that God usually wants to reveal and uproot from us. We can deceive people and even ourselves, but we can never deceive God and until we get to where God can quickly show us the sin in our heart, we’ll always get away with deceiving ourselves. The little foxes that we deny exist are the big mediums of destruction that’ll actually destroy us. The faster we submit to the working of the Spirit, the better for us and those who we’ve been sent to.
Here’s the funny thing, I started the message on Sunday and about 15 minutes into it, the entire church arrived, I can’t explain how they got back in time honestly and even till now, I didn’t bother asking. The lesson God wanted to teach me was done and that was really all that mattered.