I read an article this week in which the author spoke of an event 35 years ago that continues to speak to her. It got me thinking about anything that may have spoken to me in such a way that I readily access it today.
I was reminded of four sermons.
The first was in 1987. I had been invited to a Christian youth event in the Ulster Hall in Belfast. The preacher was speaking about the life of Samson. The key text was verse 22 of Judges Chapter 16
“But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.”
New International Version (NIV)
This spoke to me of a second chance. Although only 17 I was aware that I had messed up on a number of fronts. I had been a Christian but at 13 as I oft refer “ I hung up my coat”. The intervening years had not been so good but here this night I was hearing of a second chance. Samson had messed up but ‘his hair began to grow again’. This was my cue to run to that coat stand and put my coat back on. I did and although not without difficulties my life in relationship with God feels like the best life.
The second occurred in 1988. The key text is found in 2 Kings chapter 7 verses 3 to 10. The story is told of four lepers by the city gate. The city is besieged and there is no food. Verse 4 records the conversation the lepers have,
“If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’ — the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
This story always reminds me to do something. If you do nothing, nothing will happen but if you do something, something will happen.
The third also occurred in 1988. The key text is 2 Kings chapter 13 verses 14 to 17.
The King fears that he will be defeated so he goes to Elisha the prophet and asks for help. Verses 15, 16 & 17 records Elisha response,
“Elisha said, “Get a bow and some arrows,” and he did so. “Take the bow in your hands,” he said to the king of Israel. When he had taken it, Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands.
“Open the east window,” he said, and he opened it. “Shoot!” Elisha said, and he shot. “The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Aram!” Elisha declared. “You will completely destroy the Arameans at Aphek.”
Reinhard Bonnke was the preacher and he used these verses to encourage those listening to get a vision. The questions may have been, “What do you want to see changed?” Well, that night I went big, I wanted Ireland to be at peace. Open the window became ‘open your vision’ see what you want to see. And when you see it pray for it as if your prayer was the arrow. Well, that night I was confident that the hands of God had surrounded my hands as I fired that arrow from Birmingham where I was to Ireland. When I returned to Ireland for the next 3 years I dedicated myself to that vision.
The final one was not a sermon as such but rather a talk. It was at the University of Hertfordshire in 1994. The Christian Union had invited a preacher to speak about racism and how we may deal with it. Within his talk, he said, “Never question the humanness of another”
That one sentence went deep and has remained ever since. No matter what I may think of another I should never question their humanness because once we do that we can make many justifications.
Now I want to hear from you, “What event occurred in your life that still speaks today?”