The Pastor’s Piece
January 23, 2022
Somebody asked me one time if I ever run out of stories to tell? The answer is No. Never. Everything that happens in life is a story waiting to be retold – and it’s usually a lot funnier the second time around. A good friend gave me a coffee mug for Christmas that says: “Be careful – you might end up in a sermon illustration.”
I walked into the Post Office last week all bundled up for the weather. I had on my insulated brown coveralls, Muck boots, two hooded sweatshirts, stocking cap, gloves, and a heavy winter coat that cost me $30,000 back when I was buying seed corn. It was their gift to me for spending all that money on seed. Somebody who moved up here from the south told me one time that when it’s this cold, the only thing that matters is that you’re warm. How you look means nothing. Good point.
The Post Office lady gave me that look that said: “I should know you from somewhere but just can’t place you.” I knew her from the Post Office, but that’s the only place I had ever seen her. After a couple of awkward glances my way, she said: “I hardly recognize you in that get up. I’m used to seeing you on Sunday morning. I watch every Sunday.”
That incident reminded me of a sheep parable Jesus told in the Book of John. Jesus said in John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them.” Jesus knows those who are His. When Jesus says, “I know them,” this means at least that He knows us by name; that is, He knows us individually and intimately. We are not anonymous, lost in the flock. He knows us and He hears us when we pray.
The apostle Paul puts it like this: “God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’” (2 Timothy 2:19).
It is hard to overemphasize what a tremendous privilege it is to be known personally, intimately, and lovingly by the Son of God. It is a precious gift to all His sheep, and it contains within it profound, personal fellowship and affection and the promise of eternal life.
It was early in the morning and cold outside. I pulled into the gas station, got out and did the usual – swipe the card, open the little gas door, turn the cap and insert the nozzle. I followed the prompts and got the pump going and jumped back inside the truck where it was warm. I watched as the pump ran slower than I’ve ever known a pump to run. It took a full ten minutes to pump 20 gallons of gas. At first I was going to shut it off and go to another pump, but that meant going outside into the cold again so I decided to just wait it out. I wasn’t in a hurry and this would give me time to check the messages on my phone. So that’s what I did. That was fine for a while, but then I started to smell gasoline. You know how they say not to leave the pump unattended? I found out why. Sometimes the spring loaded shut off doesn’t always shut off. I don’t know how much gas ran out on the ground, but it was enough to make me mad. I’m already not happy about the price of gas, then this. What a waste. So we live and learn.
Speaking of cold weather outside. Last week, my wife and I had a chance to get away to Florida for a three day holiday. This sounded great to us but we had some details to iron out to make it all happen. It only took a couple hours to get our ducks in a row and we were ready to go. The airline tickets were reserved and our bags were packed. About an hour later, our son called and wanted to know if we’d be interested in babysitting overnight on Friday and Saturday. Oh boy, would we?!! So we unpacked our bags and changed our focus in a hurry. The only trouble was, it was below zero here and about 80 degrees there. Once we had set our sights on Florida, it wasn’t easy to unset them. But we did. We had to call the airline to see if we could get a voucher for our tickets. With the onset of Covid the airlines have been a lot more lenient and willing to work with us on that. My wife called and the voice on the other end said they were unusually busy and the wait time would be over two hours. So we waited. We tried going online, but they wouldn’t give us a refund online. We had to talk to a real person. So she put her phone on speaker, plugged it in, and went about her day. Finally, after 3 hours and 22 minutes, she was connected to a real live person. She was kind and gracious and gave us a voucher worth the full price of both tickets. Praise the Lord.
We can go to Florida anytime. It’s not everyday we get to spend uninterrupted time with our beautiful, little granddaughter.
Life is good.
(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin)