Sunday, December 26, 2010

Preach The Word...Be Instant In Season And Out Of Season

One Sunday in December 1961 while living in Beaumont, I made a new year’s resolution. But allow me to start at the beginning.

The telephone rang one Saturday at midnight. Breaking out of sleep I answered, and Brother Petry, one of the leaders at the Sour Lake, Texas Church of Christ said, “Brother Hamby, is there any way that you can come preach for us in the morning? Our preacher is in the hospital.” I told him that of course I would be there.

You see, I was a fill-in preacher in those days. My “on-call” Churches of Christ included Saratoga, Votaw, Warren, Silsbee, Winnie, Groves, and Sour Lake along with a few congregations in Beaumont. On occasion they would call me to preach if their preacher was sick or out of town.

I remember one Sunday at the old Delaware Street Church of Christ in Beaumont. My, could they ever sing…beautifully soul-inspiring. I began my sermon. The audience began saying “Amen” every time I finished a sentence. This spurred me on to greater eloquence. I do not remember what I said but at one point, the audience stood up and began clapping. I got all the more fired up. I believed they learned not to stand up and clap realizing that I would spew forth eloquence all day. Then later, they had a meal prepared. That food was good enough to go right on to Heaven. But wait, I may be digressing.

I researched my files that Saturday night and realized I did not have a sermon available that Sour Lake had not already heard. I was so sleepy that I decided to wait till morning then I would work up a sermon.

Sunday morning rolled in. My wife reminded me that she needed to attend the South Park Church of Christ over on Highland Ave. because she was teaching a class. So I drove her to South Park then headed over to Highway 105 going to Sour Lake. Still I did not have a sermon ready.

I placed a writing pad in my passenger seat and proceeded to write notes while I drove. There was a sign that read, “Sour Lake 15 miles.” At sixty miles per hour, I had 15 minutes to complete my outline. I had to watch the road because Highway 105 at that time was a narrow 2-lane road. So I scribbled my notes without looking at the writing pad.

Upon arriving, I walked up to the church house entrance with about five minutes to spare. I planned to finish up my sermon during the song service.

However, Brother Petry met me at the door and said, “Brother Hamby, our song leader is here but he is too hoarse to lead the singing. Since you are here to preach, would you mind also leading the song service? I replied, “Of course I’ll do it.” I still had not finished my sermon.

When sermon time rolled around, I began with, “Now I want everyone to ask himself this question.” I looked down at my notes written while driving sixty miles per hour. I could not read my writing. I guess Highway 105 was a little bumpy and I wrote without looking at my pad. There was no way I could read the question I wanted them to ask themselves. Silently I asked God to take over. The question spurted forth, “Are you prepared?”

I used the events of my morning as an outline and compared being prepared for eternity. Later the congregation commented that the sermon was the best I had ever done.

My resolution that year became “Always try to prepare and always turn it over to God.”

God always will help you to do your best.

Winston Hamby


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