Three Sentences that Changed Things for Me
Just a few times a year I share my sermons on my blog. This week and next week, I’m sharing sermons I recently preached from the gospel of Luke. They were in different contexts, one was as a guest in a former church (this week), and the other was in my current local church (next week).
Below is the written introduction to this week’s sermon, as well as the link to listen to the whole thing.
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When I was graduating from seminary and looking for jobs in local churches, one particular application stands out in my memory. When they asked about my hobbies, among other things, I wrote these three sentences:
I enjoy reading and writing. This is somewhat strange for me to admit to myself, coming from my engineering background where I neither enjoyed nor did much of either. Yet, as time has passed, largely under the influence of seminary-forced papers, irritation has grown into love.
And it did: irritation grew into love.
They were just three small sentences, but they changed things for me. If you had asked me five minutes before I wrote them, I might have told you this is how I felt, but I’m not sure I would have because I had never articulated the feelings before.
Yet if I’m honest, this hobby of mine—this passion for writing—hasn’t always been contained within its proper bounds, even now. Sometimes the things we love are good things, but our love and our enjoyment of them grow beyond the rightful place and size. Pastor and author Timothy Keller speaks of this as a “good thing becoming an Ultimate thing,” which, he says, is when idolatry happens. He says this because “good things” should never become “god-like things” in our lives.
So, for example, I recently submitted a few articles to various online publications, as well as a longer writing project to a publisher. I confess that too often in quiet moments my mind has drifted to whether or not these articles would be received well, whether they would make the cut, whether or not I was someone who mattered. Too frequently and too easily, my thoughts would drift into the realm of daydream and fantasy.
Your hobbies and preoccupations might not be mine; I doubt for most they are. But I bet you do have something that it doesn’t take much of a lull in the action for you to begin thinking about it. Maybe it’s your hobby or family or career or health. It doesn’t take much downtime for you to pull out your phone, begin browsing, and start daydreaming.
If you had your wishes, what do you want to get out of life? What do you long for? What do you hope for? What do you dream about? What keeps you motivated?
You don’t have to have an answer now, but I will tell you this: I think the way Simon Peter would have answered these questions is altogether different before the events in Luke 5:1-11 happened and after they happened. A huge catch of fish was what he desperately wanted, but when he got it, he realized he shouldn’t have treasured stuff more than Jesus.
[Picture taken by Dustin Tramel at New Life Bible Fellowship in Tucson, AZ]