I Stood Up Because I Was Stood Up

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  • My sermon preparation was in limbo the whole week. Last Sunday, I preached Ephesians 1:15-19, intending to follow it up with a message on the final part of the passage (vv. 19-23). But I was not sure if I would get to do it today. Months ago, I preached for Dr. “Fill-in-the-Blank,” who was scheduled to be in town this weekend. And we discussed him coming to preach for me today. And when I saw him again not too long ago, we confirmed that he would preach for me today. However, we didn’t talk again until yesterday. So I wasn’t sure if he was going to actually come today. And it put my sermon preparation in limbo this week.

    Yesterday, I taught a seminar at the church in preparation for the fall semester of our Sunday School. It was a good time. But I was exhausted when it was done. When the guys asked me what I was going to do about today, I looked at my cell phone. I had one message on it (…That’s rare… It’s usually full… I am not the best at phone messages and call backs… Confession is good for the soul, but bad for the reputation…). I listened to it. It was Dr. “Fill-in-the-Blank.” He was calling to let me know that he was in town. I called him back and we made logistical preparations for him to be picked up to preach our two morning services. Then I promptly went home and went to sleep.

    It was after 8 PM when I woke up. I had heard the phone ring a couple of times. But I didn’t roll over to pick it up. But as I got out of bed, I looked at the phone. I had missed 7 calls and had 5 messages. I checked the messages (…I was really on a roll with this answering messages thing yesterday…). and each one of them was from Dr. “Fill-in-the-Blank.” The first message was to let me know that he was just going to preach the 11 AM service. The last message was to tell me that he had received a call from Bishop Noel Jones and that he was going to be preaching today at the City of Refuge. Doc was apologetic. I was understanding. I trust we’ll get together some time down the road. As I headed back to bed, Crystal asked me was I going to preach. “Yes.” Then she asked me what I was going to preach. “Me and the Lord will talk about that in the morning. I’m going back to bed.” And, indeed, I woke up this morning with a message on my heart. I preached Philippians 4:6-7 – “God’s Answer for Your Anxieties.” I didn’t have my A-game today, for various reasons. But the Lord’s grace was good enough and his power was at work in my weakness. While preaching, I knew that I was not standing up merely because I was stood up. God had a specific message for his people that he wanted me to proclaim today: Pray your worries away!


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.