The best sermon I received in a very long time wasn’t presented to me in a church building. In fact, I didn’t hear it – not a word was spoken. This was a sermon that I needed to see. It was a grace from God, a gift of love from the One who knows me better than I know myself.
Now that our nest is empty (you can read about that here), I have started traveling with my husband. He designs, sells and manufactures motorcycle accessories. We spent this past Saturday at the grand opening of a motorcycle garage in Oklahoma City. It is a very nice facility in a not-so-nice area of the city. The garage is surrounded by a substantial fence and a small admission fee was charged. I assume in order to keep the local homeless community from crashing the party.
The grand opening featured a motorcycle show, food trucks, a live band, and vendors (that would be Jeff and I). We were set up along the fence that spanned the sidewalk. The live band attracted a small gathering of homeless who listened from the “wrong” side of the fence. One older man was especially enjoying the live music. He would comment on the songs and the talent of the musicians. It was, undoubtedly, the highlight of his week and an unexpected joy that he stumbled upon this free concert.
And then, unbeknownst to be, the sermon began. The man hollered to get my attention and asked me to request that the band play Simple Man by Lynyrd Skynyrd. He told me that he would do it himself but couldn’t afford the $5 admission fee. The list of reasons why I declined his request is long and boring; and in hindsight, stupid and petty, so I won’t bore you with the details. I am, at this point, still oblivious to the gospel message being preached.
The simple man seemed unfazed by my rejection and moved further down the fence to ask someone else to help him with his song request. The young man he approached was hanging out with his friends, enjoying the sunny day and holding a cold beer in his hand. His heart, unlike mine, was much warmer than his beer, so he strode across the concrete toward the band and made the request.
The sermon continued as I watched this young man go over to the concession stand and buy cold water, not just for the man who made the song request, but for his other companions on the “wrong” side of the fence. OUCH! My toes are still bruised from this sermon. They were standing just a few feet from my ice chest which was full of cold water that I had not even thought to share.
Two days later, I am still reeling from the callousness of my own heart. The band eventually played his song, but the “simple man” had disappeared before he got to hear his request. Oh, but I heard it and I will never hear that song again without being reminded of the best sermon I ever saw. As the band sang the lyrics, I was filled with shame.
“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast / Troubles will come and they will pass / You’ll find a woman and you’ll find love / And don’t forget, son, there is someone up above”
Yes, indeed, Lynyrd Skynyrd – there is someone up above. And I am grateful that He cares enough to speak to me through the loving actions of a young man and is gracious enough to forgive me for my sins.