When he gets home four days later, it's Saturday afternoon and he still had a Pulpit Freedom Sunday sermon to prepare, so I started a pot of coffee. I did the dinner dishes, started a load of laundry Mike would finish for me, and went to bed.
I stirred when he came up, and the clock tells me he's been at it more than a few hours: 1:51. He drops softly in the bed beside me, exhausted. I hear him breathe, "Thank you, Jesus," as he wriggles his head into his pillow. I count the days since last Tuesday, his last full night's sleep, count them like sheep, think my prayer Let him rest Lord, and am fast asleep again.
From the shower on Sunday morning, he tells me he still isn't quite finished preparing his sermon, and I tell him I am putting "Do Not Disturb" signs on his office doors this morning. He usually has an open door policy, but he lets me hang the signs. He knows his limits, and I love him for this wisdom and that he lets me be protective sometimes.
We worship with leaders like this: a father and daughter, singing "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord." There's harmony and symmetry and one accord, and it leads us right into His presence.
When Mike stands behind the pulpit, he is tired and sore and makes a joke about moving furniture being invented by demons to torture the men of the earth. Chuckling, he quickly moves into his passage of study from Romans and expounds on why ours is a nation in crisis. It was the only comic relief in the whole hour and a half long sermon.
Our website gives an explanation regarding his lengthy sermons. Yes, he tells people up front that the sermons are long and academic, and why that is. We are biblically illiterate as a people, and it's important, so Sunday lunch just has to wait until we've eaten spiritually first. Just one more little thing to remind us that the Christian life is inconvenient and an afront to the flesh.
Alas, God is a gentleman Who forces Himself on no one, and Romans 1 tells us what happens when He leaves a man to have his own way in his sin—complete depravity.
This is not a feel good sermon.
In fact, it's a little terrifying to consider man's end when he knows God but does not honor him as God. He becomes futile in his speculations and his foolish heart is darkened. Could this be what is happening in our nation?
People need the Lord. Our situation is bleak and we are desperate without Him.
This is what He rescues us all from: depravity. This is why we need rescue: we are sinful and wicked without Him. It's an uncomfortable message, but Mike has never been one to mince words or back down.
He outlines for us the positions of both parties and both candidates on a number of issues. He enumerates the civic duties of Christians nationwide from scripture. We spend some time in prayer for our nation, our leaders, both spiritual and political, and for our citizens to educate ourselves on the issues and the scriptures so we can vote biblically.
We leave knowing God is the only answer, and it's never too late to fall on His grace. Not even for a nation that has wandered far off.
We snap a shot of the twins who wear the same shirt to church and the same godly countenance.
The girls stay all afternoon to paint one of the childrens' classrooms and the new youth room. Adrian leaves for Atlanta to play his guitar in concert tonight. This is how our children's ministry continues even after our long Sunday service is over.
His sermon behind us and in us, Mike and I go home alone, after having lunch with Mom, to pack.
He leaves for Guatemala in just over 30 hours. There are 35 pastors there waiting for training. He still has not rested. His next shot at a decent night sleep is 11 days from now when he has returned.
Late that night, with Adrian still not yet home, we fall again in the bed. Mike breathes, "Thank you, Jesus," and I think my prayer again: Let him rest, Lord.
October is Pastor Appreciation month. Have you appreciated yours lately?
Photos courtesy of Lindsay Bolton. Thank you, Lindsay.