In a few weeks I’m speaking at a residential rehab clinic. I’ve spoken there before and love the people that run this facility and the people that live there.
I know what I’m going to say. I’ve got a 30 minute concept called “4 words,” but despite any level of preparation I’ve done, I have a serious question for you:
“Do I have to say that I was prepared to speak on one thing but God gave me something completely different at the last second?”
Is that a “Christian law” or just a “Christian like?” Is that something we have to do, kind of like the double greeting where you awkwardly greet the crowd, express your disappointment in the quality of their response and then chastise them into greeting you again by saying, “I said ‘good morning?'” Or is that just something we like to do?
I’m starting to speak more and these are the kind of things I should probably figure out. I can just see me sitting on a plane someday, where 73% of all “God changed my sermon at the last minute” events occur, flying out to an event with an extreme degree of nervousness. I’ll have a recorder out, my notebook ready and will be talking to everyone I make eye contact with. “Hey aisle-mate, got anything interesting to say that might completely shipwreck what I think I’m speaking on when I land and send me in a different direction?”
Or, “Excuse me stewardess, I can’t be sitting on an empty aisle, I think I’m supposed to get a new message while on this flight. Could you please put my seat beside someone that looks insightful, perhaps with a beard or an exotic hat? Thanks.”
You laugh, but God loves the game time decision on the sermon. He loves the “in the shower” moment where something unexpected jumps out at you while you’re washing your hair and singing Rob Thomas’ new song “Diamonds on her shoes” and wondering if at this point, recording studios have a “Gospel Choir” button they can press when they want to make a song sound more emotionally engaging.
I think the “sermon switch up” happens primarily because God loves to remind us that He’s a creative God. I think this happens because the best creative moments are where you, the speaker, the writer, the musician, the whatever are actually the first spectator for the experience. Where you get an idea that is bigger and weirder than you can possibly take credit for and can only really sit back and say, “Really God? That’s the one? I get to share that? You’re crazy.”
And it keeps you from getting cocky. When I was preparing for the Off the Blogs event, God reminded me of something that happened to me while I was at Chuck-e-Cheese in the second grade. This one idea became the hinge of everything I said and because it was so off the wall, it was impossible for me to take credit for it.
I can be an ego drunk jerk sometimes but even I couldn’t pretend that when I was 9 years old I said to myself while at Chuck-e-Cheese, “I should remember this moment because in 24 years I’m going to want to share this with people at a Catalyst event.”
I didn’t do that. I got to experience that idea just like everyone else in the crowd. I didn’t create that moment. But fortunately I didn’t get it as I drove to the event. I worked on that idea a few weeks before and delivered it half a dozen times to my daughters’ stuffed animals in their play room. (Clifford the big red dog got saved multiple times. He struggles with body size issues.)
Other people that say, “I was going to preach about _____, but God gave me a different idea” probably have other thoughts about why they do it, but that’s mine.
Am I the only one that’s heard a pastor say that?
Or is that something a pastor has said to you too?