Enjoying the Journey
On a Thursday night in July of 1989 God made clear to me that He wanted me to be a preacher. I was 12 years old and full of fear about the future. Today I am more grateful to God than ever to be in the ministry.
My first sermon behind a pulpit was given on Sunday, August 27, 1989. Several young preachers were speaking in an afternoon youth rally. My sermon was a simple one, taken no doubt from something that I had read or heard from someone else! “I Have a Secret” was the title. The Scripture I chose was the story of Paul pleading the case of Onesimus to Philemon. It is the story of a man who had learned the secret to true joy. Though in a prison cell, he lived for Christ and he lived to help others. His thoughts were not of his suffering, but of those to whom he could minister.
Recently I heard someone repeat the little outline, well-known and often used, that I borrowed that Sunday afternoon. It is the acrostic of JOY: J- Jesus, O- others, Y- yourself. A life lived in this order will be a joyful one.
The truth is that I hate to spell JOY that way. I want to be first, and so do you. Sin nature is a self nature. We all want our way! And therein lies the reason that so few people live truly joyous lives.
All “good Christians” would like to agree that Jesus should be first. But others? ahead of us?!? In fact if others are not viewed ahead of your own self-interest then Jesus is not truly Lord. When He is in His rightful place in our hearts, His priority becomes ours. If “others” are not viewed more important than my needs, then Christ is not truly Lord of every area of my life.
Others, Lord, yes, others!
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others,
that I might live like thee.
Someone rewrote this beautiful verse to describe the way that most of us actually live:
Others, Lord, yes, others!
Let this their motto be.
Let others live for others,
so all may live for me!
Isn’t this the same mistake men have made for centuries? Ancient civilizations assumed that the sun, moon, and stars revolved around the earth. It appeared that way. Yes, everything revolved around us! Of course, we now know that this is a laughable error. It is the earth that is revolving around the sun. Time and experience have given us a much different perspective.
Yet we continue to make the same misjudgment in our personal lives. Surely the universe revolves around me! Remember that appearances are not always what they seem. We are not the center of the universe, and self-centered thinking can never produce the joy that living for Christ and loving others can bring.
It is easy to quote Philippians 2. It is much harder to live it. Every day I am realizing more that my first sermon is my lasting assignment.