Since I started preaching and teaching 47 years ago, I have never lacked for a place to use my spiritual gifts. Only in the latter half of my life has God allowed me to add teaching through the written word. But I have always preferred the speaking ministry over writing. I have told you many times that I am not a writer. If you want to read some good writing, you should read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. Now, those guys could write.
My speaking schedule is usually booked a year or two ahead. When the pandemic hit, my engagements began to drop one by one. I was supposed to be teaching in Mexico, Guatemala and across the U.S. I make my living by preaching and teaching, and for the last nine weeks, I have experienced what most of you have as well. So I looked around to see what God had in mind.
God opened the doors for me to serve at Catoosa, First. The pastor happens to be my son Caleb, and the Yada Hoodies attend this church. On several occasions, I had noticed that some of the facilities needed a little touch-up. With extra time on my hands, I asked Caleb and the elders if I could bring my friend Roger Larkey, an ace carpenter who recently retired, to check out the church.
Roger and I walked into the empty building to see the needs. Room by room, we discovered outlets to rewire, drywall to patch, baseboards to reattach, walls and ceilings to paint, bathrooms and floors to repair, lights to install and siding to hang. Seven weeks later, we still have a few things to touch up.
But it has not been all work; we had some fun along the way. While Roger was installing a new ceiling in the entryway, he embedded a toy Power Ranger. This happened to be the Red Ranger, Jason, the original leader who had a big heart to serve others. Can you imagine when the next building renovation takes place, and they pull down the ceiling to discover this toy? Our prayer is that it will become a collector’s item, and the church will get a nice sum of money.
This renovation has required me to use muscles I didn’t know even existed. Scraping, sanding, painting, climbing on roofs, installing siding and fixing water leaks have taught me some new skills. Roger and I would remind each other that we were “working for the Lord” (Col. 3:23b).
During this season of not going out to speak, God gave me a new way to serve Him. The days of quarantine have gone by quickly, and the satisfaction of helping this growing congregation has blessed me.
Now God has opened still more doors for me to serve Him. This week alone, I have built a fence, installed a new roof on a back porch, helped load a trailer so a brother could move and built a ramp for a lady who recently had a leg amputated. As she took her first journey down the ramp, she smiled from ear to ear and told us, “I got my freedom back!”
There is great joy in doing the big things. God has allowed me to speak to tens of thousands at one setting, and He has allowed me to build a ramp for one woman. Which brought me the greatest joy? It’s a tie. It isn’t about what I do, but for whom I do it.
Two verses have run through my mind these last few months. One is Matthew 5:41: “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” Roger and I could have let many things slide, but each time, we went the extra mile to make sure we did the task correctly. We could get by with two coats of paint, but we knew three coats would look much nicer. You must do a good job when the building inspector is Jesus Christ himself. His standards are high. Whether crafting a sermon or running a caulk line, you must approach each with the same intensity. With every task, I want to do such a good job that I will one day hear those famous words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 5:25:21b).
The second verse that kept running through my mind involved my joy in serving. God gives great joy when He allows you to touch the multitudes, and He grants the same joy when He allows you to touch the least of these.
“’The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”’” (Matt. 25:40).
No matter what I do, I am grateful to work for the King.