I preached the 11 AM service at Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church on August 5, 1990. My Father, who had led the church for more than forty years, had died fourteen months earlier. And the congregation was deep into its pastoral search. I was not a part of this process. In fact, the pulpit committee met with me the next day to make it plain to me that I would not be a candidate. I had not sought the church. I was just a seventeen-years-old high school senior. But apparently there had been some requests from some of the members to add my name to the list being commended to the church. And the committee wanted me to know, in no uncertain terms, that this would not happen. (For the record, they allowed names to be nominated from the floor. My name was given. And the rest is…)
I had been preaching most first Sunday services at 11 AM throughout much of 1990. But August 5 was the last time they allowed me to preach before the election of the new pastor. They told me that allowing me to preach would only confuse the search process. Three months later, on November 5, the congregation elected me as the third pastor of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church.
In the providence of God, the last time I was allowed to preach before being selected as pastor, I preached from Job 14:14. It says, “If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come” (KJV). I entitled the message, “When God Removes the Hedge from Around Your Life, What Then?” I sought to make three points from verse 14b:
1. Job had an appointed time.
2. Job knew the one who appointed his time.
3. Because Job knew he had an appointed time, and he knew the one who appointed the time, he was resolved to wait.
I know this isn’t deep. But what do you want? I was only a boy preacher.
I wanted to be an encouragement to the church that day, as they had already gone more than a year without a pastor – after having the same pastor for over four decades. But as I preached, as often happens, I discovered that I was preaching this sermon to myself more than anyone else. I needed to be reminded to wait my turn.
As I was preparing to go home for the day, Job 14:14 came to my mind. Then I recalled the sermon I preached on this verse, and the circumstances surrounding its presentation. In fact, before I started writing this post, I went to my file cabinet and found the almost twenty-year-old handwritten manuscript of this sermon. As I read through it, Lord preached it to me again. I am struggling with impatience right now. And I really need this reminder that waited time on God is never wasted time.
Are you sitting with me in God’s waiting room? Take heart. You have an appointed time. And God’s timing is perfect. So wait on him to…. (You fill in the blank).