Monday, January 12, 2009

“The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Morning”

I love Judith Viorst’s children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. It seems nothing can go right for the little guy. He says, "I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." For Alexander, things just keep going from bad to worse. Yesterday morning at church, I could really identify with him.

I preach the same sermon at both our 8:30 and 11:00 services. I use PowerPoint to project images and outlines behind me as I preach. Yesterday’s sermon was geared around the 11:00 child dedication service. As there was no child to dedicate in the 8:30 service, I had tweaked the sermon to make it more generally applicable to everyone. In my opinion, the sermon absolutely tanked! I told myself, “That’s the worst sermon you’ve ever preached in your life!”

Before Sunday school (at 9:45), the couple with the baby told me that they’d forgotten about the dedication, and hadn’t invited all the family members. I told them that it was fine, and we could reschedule the dedication for another Sunday.

But then I asked myself, “What do I do now? I have three choices: I can (a) re-preach the worst sermon of my life that no longer applies to a baby dedication, (b) re-preach a sermon from a previous church with no PowerPoint projection, or (c) scramble to come up with an original sermon during the Sunday school hour, that would also have no PowerPoint. What to do? What to do?”

I was still fretting over the prospect of a second terrible, horrible, no good, very bad worship service when Jesus walked through the door. Only, he didn’t look like Jesus. He looked like a little blonde beauty who still uses sippy cups and carries stuffed animals. Madison saw me, threw down the four or five toddler-things she was carrying in her tiny arms, and threw them open to give me a hug. I bent down, gathered her up, squeezed the boogers out of her, and received a touch from the Lord.

She didn’t say a word, and she didn’t have to. “I needed that hug today,” I told her, and she smiled, toddling off to Sunday school.

Well, I went back to my office, prayed with a some dear friends, tweaked the original sermon some more, and went out to preach a humdinger.

When you have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, how does God speak to you, to lift you out of it? Look for His touch in something as simple as a prayer or a child’s hug. He will lift you out of it, and give you a firm place to stand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was in the first service and thought it was wonderful! I thought all day about God giving me a clean slate, no matter what I or the woman in your story had done we are forgivin, we have a clean slate, God word never goes out void. Sometimes when a sermon seems like it tanks, trust me there is always someone that needed just that message.