People ask me to pardon their language a lot.
I think that this kind of request is required by some obscure law.
Article 2.4, Section 8a, Paragraph 6: Before cursing in front of a pastor, the curser shall ask said pastor to pardon the forthcoming curses. If the curser forgets to ask for this permission, he shall say, “Oh my gosh! I didn’t know that you were a pastor. I am so sorry!” before the end of the conversation.
When I was done preaching last Sunday a guy asked me to pardon his language. I readied myself for the creative combination of expletives that usually follows such a request.
“I’m a hell-raiser and I come from a family of hell-raisers.”
He went on to tell me about two of his family members who died within months of each other last year, apparently from too much hell-raising. He knew that he was next. He wanted to change. So did his wife. She was standing right next to him.
They both repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ as their resurrected Lord and Savior.
That morning, two hell-raisers from a family of hell-raisers became new creations and were adopted into the family of God.
I can’t help but think about where I was just a few hours before this conversation took place.
It was early Sunday morning. I was supposed to be in my office praying over my sermon. Instead, I was hovering over the trash can in my bathroom praying for God to keep me from throwing up. There are only a few things that my kids like to share. The throwing up virus is one of those things.
When it was finally time for me to preach I wasn’t feeling much better. While the congregation was singing I kept looking at the door in front of me and the red exit sign above it. That was my way out if things started to get ugly. I leaned over to my wife and told her that she might need to find someone to stall for me. Her words picked me up and carried me to the platform.
“Don’t worry. Satan is just trying to stop what God wants to do.”
By the Spirit’s power I preached a sermon on, well, the Spirit’s power.
I don’t remember much about it other than the fact that I never had to use that door with the red exit sign above it.
But I did learn a lesson that morning. One that I thought I already knew.
No amount of hell-raising, whether it be social or digestive, can stand against the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.
He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:15 (ESV)