I'm looking for a man with a trash bag. Until yesterday morning, I had never seen the man. I haven't seen him since. But, as I shared with my congregation in yesterday's message, this man left a huge impact on me.
You see, I'm in the middle of a series called As You Go. It deals with the call on EVERY Christ follower's life to serve this world and to love others more than self. It's a clear message that weaves its way throughout Scripture. It's been a good series and, I think, very thought provoking.
On the way to church with my family yesterday morning, I passed the aforementioned man with the bag. He was walking alongside the road and his bag looked like it carried some clothes or something. I politely moved away from the shoulder with my truck so he would have room to safely walk across the bridge. Something told me to stop. I didn't. In my mind, I justified that my family was a little bit late and, after all, I was the pastor. If I weren't there in time, people would start to worry.
As I stood backstage preparing to come out for the message, it struck me--I was the man that I was about to preach about. I was the guy who was too busy to help my neighbor, to pull my truck to the side of the road and see if he needed a hand. Now, this isn't the first time I've been confronted with my own failure to live up to God's commands--just the first time it's happened as I was heading onto the stage to preach. Let me assure you, it is not a comfortable feeling.
But following Christ shouldn't always be comfortable. Preacher or not, long-time Christian or not--as Christ followers we ALL have to come face-to-face with the ways we short-circuit God working in our lives. When I become the biggest obstacle to the transformation that God is doing in me, then I have to take responsibility and remove my will from the picture. Only then can the transforming work of God continue. That's what I pledge to do as a pastor and, specifically, as your pastor, Ridgies. You deserve it. My family deserves it. Most of all, my Savior deserves it.
So, today, I'm on a journey to find a man with a bag...and this time, I pray God gives me the eyes to see and the heart to serve no matter what my agenda may be.