I heard a real, down to earth, preacher speak yesterday. Gifted, inspired, truth-telling and encouraging, with lots of humor.
He was talking about the things we care about and struggle with in our real lives, like addiction, and pain. Loneliness, and humility. Wanting help, and not knowing where to get it. Needing strength, and feeling weak. Real things.
He gave an example of a man who was “sick, sober and sorry,” but not enough to clean up. Just hung over. And the man came and asked for a blessing, asked for prayer. And this was not the first time, but it was an old pattern. An old habit that kept going around and around, like addiction does.
And this preacher told him, okay, son I’ll pray for you. I’ll pray that every time you smoke, it makes you feel like you’re about to get lung cancer. I’ll pray that your booze makes you sick at the first sip, and tastes like poison. I’ll pray that you get so sick, you almost die. I’ll pray for God to cut you down to size. Yes, God, I ask you to bring this man down. Do whatever it takes, God. Take him down. Break him. Bring him to his knees!
And the man was scared and surprised, and didn’t understand. But this preacher explained. He told him, son, you’re hanging over hell on a rotten stick. I want you to be saved. I want you to live. I want you to get your life back. But if you won’t turn, I pray that God will turn you.
You think you’re sorry now, the preacher told the man, but you’re just hung over. That’s not sorry. You need to go deep, son. You need to get to tears and snot. You know what I’m talking about? You need to cry your guts out, cry until your face is covered with tears and snot, until you’re on your knees, crying out to God from a broken heart. A humble heart. A heart ready for healing. And so I pray for God to take you down. Because I want you to live. I want you to be healed and whole. I want you close to God.
Now that, to me, is a real preacher. A man who knows what he’s talking about, and wants to do good in the community. That is a man of God, and a man of the people. A blessing to those who hear him.