Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: We the church have not been paying attention to what God wants passionately for His people: that they be fed, that they be healthy, that they have salvation.

She strode feverishly across the room, brandishing two sheets of paper, one in each hand. She was smiling and yet agitated, excited and yet anxious. "I want this job so much I can taste it." In one hand was a job listing that read as if her very name were on it. Her degree, her major, her experiences, her interests ... they were all there. This job was made for her.

In the other hand she carried her resume, all newly touched up and carefully printed out on that high quality paper you use only for things like diplomas and never, never for the grocery list. How could that agency do anything else but hire her, once they saw that resume? Why would they have any questions at all? The job should be hers! "I want that job so much I can taste it!"

But of course they said what all employers are supposed to say, "Thank you very much. We will have to check your references. We will send for your transcript. We will assess your experience and then we do have to offer it to someone within before we offer it to someone from outside. But thank you very much." As in good-bye. As in don’t call us, we’ll call you. Someday. Maybe.

Well, that brush-off did not discourage her. Actually it only increased her intensity. Remember what she had said, "I want that job so much I can taste it!" She began to look for somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody. She sat down and composed a letter that would make you think she was running for sainthood. She did everything but storm the gates of heaven and demand that the Lord use one of His thunderbolts to get their attention. "I want that job so much I can taste it."

Have you ever wanted something so deeply that you just about had the physical sensation of tasting it? Have you ever felt so right, so positive that something was for you that you could hardly wait until you could have it? So committed to something that was just beyond you ... you could see it, you could smell it, you could almost taste it, but you didn’t yet have it to bite down on?

I hope you’ve had that feeling. I hope there was something you felt that passionate about.

But sometimes this business of being so ready for something that you can taste it leaves a bitter taste behind. Sometimes it goes wrong and you feel very frustrated.

Almost exactly thirty years ago, I had graduated from the seminary and felt very strongly that I knew what I wanted to do. I knew, on the one hand, that I had been trained to be a pastor, and so I wanted to be a pastor. But I also knew that I had a strong interest in the Reformation period of European history, and that I wanted to go on for a Ph.D. degree.

And so, with those goals in front of me, I set out to find placement in a church near one of the universities that offered what I wanted to study. I spent the entire summer of 1963 preaching in little rural and small town churches near Bloomington, Indiana, but hearing every Sunday, "Thank you for coming. Did you know we called a new pastor last week?"

At the end of the summer, with the seminary hinting strongly they wanted us out of student housing, since I was no longer a student; and with the announcement from my wife that just the two of us would in a few months be the three of us, I began to feel very anxious. Something had to happen, and soon!

It was then that the perfect opportunity showed up. A church only eight miles from Indiana University, a church which had always had part-time pastors, seminary students who would be down in Louisville most of the week but at the church just on the weekends ... this church had decided it now wanted a full-time pastor. They had grown to the place where they could support a pastor and they had built a brand-new parsonage as well. How much better could it get?

They asked me to come and preach one Sunday late in August. I did. Morning and evening, I preached my heart out. At the end of the day the search committee chairman said, "We like what we hear and see. Can you come and preach again this coming Sunday and meet with our committee afterward?" Of course I could and of course I did.

I gave it all I had that next Sunday ... which, if the truth be told, wasn’t a whole lot, but I gave it anyway. I wound up with a stem-winder for Sunday night, and sat down with the committee. They were friendly, they seemed pleased, they even talked about the when and the how much and all the nitty-gritty stuff.

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