Yesterday was a weak Sunday at North County. It was Valentine's Day, and so you never know how many people will be gone or guests in town for vacation. I knew that because of ministry responsibilities over the weekend both myself and Peter Wilson, our Worship Minister would be a bit sleepy and ground down.
We started the first service late, which meant the other three services started late. We had tech glitches. We had some human error. I had one of those Sundays in the pulpit where you really feel good about the content of the message, but some invisible force keeps you from speaking the English language very well.
During our final service, I saw a gentleman in the third row who seemed to be listening more intently than anyone else seemed to. After services, some of the Brothers and Sisters went to greet him and his wife. I could tell from a distance he was in spiritual pain and needed to talk to someone, so I made my way over there.
We had one of the deepest conversations I've ever had with a seeker in the building. The guilt of his past still pursued him. His current marriage was going fine but was missing something (Christ), and they were expecting a child soon. He felt the need to become a better man than he is, but has been convinced by Satan and Christians that he is somehow altogether terrible. He said, "I just can't believe that. If I'm created in God's image, I can't be all bad, can I?" We talked about real repentance, the grace of God, and what it means to be created in the image of God, while still struggling with our flesh. His wife and daughter waited nearby, refusing to look, but trying to eavesdrop.
It was a powerful, unexpected conversation in which God's presence was palpable. It ended with Him crying uncontrollably in his wife's embrace as his little sister looked on. He is recommitting to Christ. It was absolutely one of the most powerful moments I've had in ministry in the last ten years.
I left on cloud nine yesterday, remembering that through all of our mistakes yesterday, God continued to work. The Gospel isn't chained by our mistakes. I was reminded of what I already knew: the Word and worship have more power than I'll ever comprehend and God shines brighter than a thousand mistakes. Yesterday, His strength seemed to be made perfect in weakness…my weakness, and the brokenness of my new friend on the third row.
So, yesterday was a weak Sunday at North County by human standards. Perhaps we need more weak Sundays…not the kind where we mail it in thinking God will bless our sloth and slop. I mean the kind of weak where even our best efforts are overshadowed by the power of the Gospel. I would hope that's how it is every Sunday, but God made it blatantly obvious yesterday. It's a good reminder to us all that while God deserves our best efforts, He isn't bound by them.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10