Summary: This is a narrative style sermon intended to bring out the spirit of the passage and give drama and encouragement to listeners to keep "Pressing On" in their walk, or run, of faith.
KEEP PRESSING ON
My first love in preaching is to teach a verse by verse exegesis of the passage. Sometimes the passage is so familiar to the congregation that a different approach is needed to accentuate the truths. To make the passage real for people who are listening and wanting to engage it helps to make them a part of the story. That is where narrative preaching comes in. I am not an expert in the method but the following is my second attempt at narrative style preaching.
When you began the race you shot off the starting line like a bolt of lightning. You were so excited in the beginning; you couldn’t wait for the starter’s pistol to explode and open the run. Even though there were thousands waiting with you, you took off and led the crowd, running like a thoroughbred.
Some said you were going too fast and that you would expire after the first mile or so. It’s a 26 mile race uphill, reaching to the top of that mount, which is somewhat larger than Abe’s Hill in Steinbach. No one said it would be easy. The officials said that the running would get tougher as you went along. But in that first mile you felt like you had wings on your Nikes.
Those people who said you set too torrid a pace…they were right. Oh, no one can blame you for wanting to tear up the track. But in the second mile you began to feel your lungs burn; you slowed to a walk while you heaved and gasped for breath. Those Nikes now felt like lead weights.
The mass of runners long caught up to you and passed you at a steady clip, leaving you in the dust. Upwards they jogged and slowly pulled away leaving you alone on the trail.
Suddenly a lone runner blew by you and abruptly turned 90 degrees and headed into the trees and underbrush. He crashed through the branches and headed off into the ever thickening forest until he disappeared behind the foliage. “Where was he going?” you asked yourself. You began to wonder if there was something in the depths of the forest you should investigate. But no, that couldn’t be right, you thought, it didn’t fit the master plan for racing. You trudged on with some determination to stay the course.
One foot in front of the other. Another step further. The course seemed so long and the race seemed to be longer than you anticipated. Sweat poured off your brow as you continued on albeit somewhat slower than you began.
At one point you looked back down the gently sloping hill and you noticed that you had not come that far. Looking up the increasing grade it seemed the way was longer than you thought. Times of discouragement came at various points along the course, but this was a mistake. You shouldn’t have looked back when you were feeling this way.
From the corner of your eye you saw a break in the bush that lined the raceway. Before you could investigate, a small group of runners, ten or so, bust past you and, with some pause and deliberation among them, they decide to take the “shortcut.” As they take this new path your eyes follow the new trail which seems to lead more directly to the finish line. It seems to, but you weren’t sure. What did they know that you didn’t know? You began to question your conviction about the race. You began to wonder if there was an easier way to win the prize.
What if the race organizers were wrong? What if the officials had no better idea of where this race ended up than the ten who went down this new path? Weary, disillusioned and feeling the hope of finishing drain away, you found yourself standing completely still, not moving, not taking another step.
Do you go back? Do you take the new trail? Do you continue on? Your aching feet and knees bloodied from having endured such trials along the way tell you not to abuse them any further. Or do they? Perhaps they are telling you that they have invested too much in sweat and blood to quit now.
You decided to keep going. You are continuing the race even though you still wondered about the detour.
You came another mile and were approaching another bend in the curve when down the hill coming straight at you was a whole mob of runners. What’s going on? There were so many in the mob they threatened to pound you into the dust beneath their Adidas. “Sorry,” one said as he shouldered you. “Sorry,” another one said spinning you almost off balance. “Sorry. Sorry. Sorry.” One apologetically explains as she rushed by you that they discovered they were going the wrong way. It was much easier to go downhill and so logic, plus their new leader, encouraged this new direction.