At a moment’s notice

With the conclusion of our youth group mission trip to Huntington, West Virginia, our wild and wonderful slate of summer activities has come to a conclusion.

As always, it has been a lot of fun, but it also has been a lot of work. And no matter how much you enjoy things like camps, conferences and mission projects, a person’s body can only take so much. The words of Jesus ring very true: The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak. If you push hard enough for long enough, you will eventually find your limits. This past week, I found the limits for my voice.

For the majority of the week, my throat was a bit raw, and my voice had a bit of a rasp to it. I wasn’t too concerned, though, as over the course of the preceding week, I had delivered eight messages, led in the singing of dozens of songs, shouted encouragement to kids on numerous worksites and attempted to hold conversations over the loud drone of a church bus as we traveled for hours on end.

My vocal chords had been driven hard, so signs of fatigue were to be expected. The air quality issues of last week, however, were the last straw. It triggered my allergies, and on Friday morning, I found myself in an awkward position: My voice was gone.

Now, if I worked in just about any other field, the timing would have been ideal. I could have rested my voice for the weekend and been ready to roll by Monday.

As the primary preaching pastor at a local church, however, the timing could not have been worse. I had spent all week preparing a message I would not be capable of delivering, and my colleague, Pastor Nathan Parker, only had approximately 36 hours to find something to say in my place.

When he stepped up to speak on Sunday morning, Pastor Nathan joked that he was in fact not Dr. Myers and encouraged everyone to “adjust your expectations accordingly” while making a downward motion with his hands.

Anyone who heard the message would tell you, however, there was no need to lower the expectations because my guy brought a top-shelf message with extremely limited prep time. Honestly, I don’t know that the message I had spent a week crafting would have been any better or any more relevant to our lives.

I wasn’t surprised. First of all, Pastor Nathan is a very talented speaker in his own right and has always been one to put forth a first-rate effort in anything he does. Second, during the pandemic, we learned that at a moment’s notice, any of us could be struck by a sudden illness and that we all need to be prepared to step in when needed.

So while one pastor is preparing to preach on any given week, all pastors on staff are to have a message in queue just in case it is needed.

While the average Christian won’t be called upon to step into the pulpit at the last minute, we are all called to be ready to share the good news of the gospel at a moment’s notice. In I Peter 3:15, the apostle Peter challenges his readers, “But in your hearts, revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Preaching the good news doesn’t require the ability to formulate and deliver three points and a poem on a Sunday morning. Preaching the good news simply requires a willingness to share the truth of what God has done in your life and what you believe to be true about the work and person of Jesus Christ.

So are you ready? When the opportunity arises, what will you say? Why have you chosen to make Jesus Lord of your life? What is the reason for the hope you have?

The good news is you don’t have to tell anyone else’s story. You just have to be ready to share your story. You have a voice. You have a message that matters. Raise your expectations and be ready when your moment comes.

The Rev. Jeremy Myers is the lead pastor of First Baptist Church in Seymour. Read his blog at Send comments to [email protected].