Summary: Dated 1988; post-revival message. We do not retain the Spirit after a period of excitement because we have not counted the cost, we are victims of low self-esteem, or we are not our own persons.
Nothing is more annoying than to be trying to transport some liquid in a leaky vessel. You think you’ve got whatever it is all secure and ready for use, and then all of a sudden you find out it has leaked and drained allover the place ... and nothing is more disturbing and frustrating.
When I drove my car to Ridgecrest last August, I took a couple of quarts of extra oil with me in the trunk of the car. Some of you remember that I had had some engine repairs done in July, and I still wasn’t completely sure of the car, so I carried extra oil. Now these were new cans, right from the auto parts store ... never had been opened. So why should I be concerned about them? I pitched them in the trunk and didn’t worry. But when I went to get my suitcase out of the trunk, lo and behold a telltale brownish-greenish ooze on the bags, on the floor of the trunk, eventually on my hands and my clothes ... everywhere but in the crankcase. I say again, nothing is more annoying and frustrating and disturbing than working with a leaky vessel.
That might help explain why the Lord Jesus shows some annoyance with his disciples in the passage of Scripture I’ve selected for today. There is a sharpness and an edge to his voice as he confronts some disciples along the road and questions them, raps them … because, as we are going to see, they are leaky vessels, leaky disciples ... and that’s disturbing to Christ. These are folks who responded to the Lord’s appeal... they said they were ready to share his journey, they claimed they were on the journey of transformation and change ... but somehow Jesus questions them. Somehow Jesus saw in them an unreadiness, a leakiness.
On the Sunday after revival services, may I suggest to you that we now need to hear the Lord’s warning about leakiness? That in view of our high resolves, in response to all that many of us have thought and felt in these days, we need to be aware of our tendencies to leak and to be less than fully prepared to follow through on what we have chosen? Listen to these three little stories at the end of Luke’s ninth chapter, and see if they do not speak to us.
In a certain small town it was the custom for the church to hold its revival in the fall of every year. And it was just as much the custom, kind of unspoken and certainly unwritten, but nevertheless very real, that a certain group of young men would make their way down the aisle during that revival meeting. Year after year it happened the same way... as the church worked its way into its annual fall revival, those fellows, who never seemed to darken the door of the church at any other time, would come to the revival and, usually on the last night, with much fanfare, many a tear and a sort of stumbling stagger down the aisle, they would come forward and get themselves gloriously wound up … only to disappear again until the same time next year.
Now of course after three or four years of this the church folks were not surprised, and they just took it all in stride. When revival time would come they would take bets on how many verses of "Just as I am" it would take to get these fellows to put on their annual performance. No big deal and certainly nothing to get excited about .. just a part of the annual show.
The only trouble was, of course, that everybody knew that except the visiting preacher. The pastor and the people of the church didn’t think this ritual was genuine, they had seen it too many times.. but the visiting preacher would generally get all excited and worked up and would think he really had a winner on his hands. And so this year, as the annual rites cranked up, and as a few nights of preaching went by, with nothing much happening, it came closing night .. and, sure enough there they were, these fellows, in the back of the church. And on the seventh go-round of "Just as I am". there they come, right down the aisle, whopping and hollering and blubbering , “Praise the Lord.” And of course the visiting preacher, not knowing any better, got right down to praying and rejoicing, and waxed eloquent in his fervent prayer: “Fill them full, 0 Lord. Fill them full of your precious Spirit. Fill them full, 0 Lord.”
But from the back of the room came the voice of another worshipper, by this time annoyed and disturbed, and she had a counter prayer, “Don’t do it, Lord, don’ t fill them full. They leak."