The Pain Of A Pulpit


                               By Phil Scovell






          I was  the assistant pastor.   It was a small church  of about 60
     people in western Colorado.  I had met the pastor a few months earlier
     at  a youth camp where I had been  the guest speaker.  Although we had
     never met, we became close friends almost immediately.

          My wife and  I had been  discussing leaving Denver for  a smaller
     community.  Since  I was traveling as  a guest speaker, mostly  in the
     Midwest  and on  the west coast,  it was  important I  be close  to an
     airport as  a matter  of convenience.   Once  I expressed  my feelings
     concerning  moving  into  a  smaller  community  to  this  pastor,  he
     immediately began  trying to  get me  to  move to  his town.   When  I
     learned the town was  only 800 people  in population, I really  wasn't
     interested.   Since I had never  lived in a small  town, it seemed way
     too small for me.  Yet,  throughout the week, we continued to  discuss
     the possibility.   I was still skeptical but the  pastor had solutions
     for every objection I presented.

          One day, he invited me  to ride with him to his home.   The youth
     camp we  were in was only about  a 30 minute drive from  his home so I
     went.  I got to  meet his wife and he then suggested we go over to his
     little church.  He said it was to check the mail but I think he wanted
     me to get a feel for the place.  It  all felt good to me, too.  During
     the week of youth  camp, the pastor invited  me for a week  of revival
     meetings about 8 months away.

          After preaching for much of the  month of April in California, my
     wife  and I started  our flight back home  to Denver.   On the way, we
     stopped in  western Colorado  where  we were  to conduct  the week  of
     revival  meetings scheduled with this same pastor.  It took only hours
     to fall in love with the people in this small church and small town.

          During the week,  the pastor began discussing the  idea of moving
     to that town  and becoming his assistant  pastor.  He said  the church
     would  pay me  a little each  month but  I would  be free  to continue
     traveling and  preaching in other  churches as much  as I wished.   He
     assured me  I would  have no  problems getting  to either  of the  two
     airports, one  40 miles away and  the other 60 miles  distant, because
     people  in the church went  to these towns nearly  every day.  I could
     easily fly from there to Denver and make connecting flights.  The idea
     sounded better the more we discussed the possibilities.

          The pastor told me that they had  a man who was a member of there
     church who also was in real estate and he suggested we check out a few
     houses in the community.  We did.  A  contractor in the church offered
     us a brand new house he had built 6 months earlier which  he needed to
     unload since the building loan was coming due.   He offered to sell it
     at cost.   I needed, at  that time, a  3,000 dollar down payment.   My
     mother-in-law offered to give us the down payment.  I put  500 dollars
     down on the house and within weeks, the bank approved our  loan and we
     moved into our new house in western Colorado.

          Although  we did  not  stay more  than 18  months  in this  small
     western town, I  learned more during that  time from this pastor  than
     through any  other church  experience in my  life.   He allowed  me to
     become the youth pastor, something I had never even dreamed of trying,
     he taught me how to lead the music, he allowed me to organize all  the
     services, and he asked me to handled the weekly nursing home ministry.

          As the months rolled by, I learned just how much God's Word meant
     to this  pastor and how much he loved people.  He led people to Christ
     more than anyone  I personally  knew.   He discipled those  he led  to
     Christ, and he  cared for them deeply, including their families, as he
     pastored his flock of  60 people.  He became my best  friend.  I spent
     more  hours with this man than any other  man I ever knew and though I
     never told him, he has since gone home  to be with the Lord, he became
     my hero in the ministry.  No one ever encouraged me as much as he did.
     Now for the funny part of the story.

          This  little  church where  I  was  privileged  to serve  as  the
     assistant pastor, as I mentioned, had about 60 people who attended the
     services.   It was an  old building and  I believe was  constructed in
     1890.  As I said, the pastor allowed  me to do about anything I wanted
     to  try so little  by little,  I worked my  way into  various areas of
     ministry within the church.  We even had a Christian school with about
     30 students.

          One Sunday morning, the pastor and I were seated on the platform.
     We sat  on a small  bench, or pew,  which could hold  only two people.
     The pulpit, fortunately for  me, was immediately in front of us, about
     three feet  away, so I  never had  any trouble finding  it when I  led
     singing or did announcements.

          One  Sunday morning,  as the  piano was  being played  during the
     offering, the pastor leaned over and said, "When you get up  after the
     offering to lead us in the  last song, be sure and mention  that Karen
     is  going to sing a solo before I preach."   I said I would.  He said,
     "Don't forget."  I said that I wouldn't.

          When the piano notes died away, I stood and stepped to the pulpit
     and we sang another hymn.  Forgetting to announce that Karen was going
     to sing, I sat back down.  The split second I sat down, I  remembered.
     I leaped to my feet and  stepped to the pulpit.  You guessed  it.  The
     pastor was  already there but  had not  yet had the  time to open  his
     mouth so I  didn't realize he was there.   I slammed into  the back of
     him with such force, it is a miracle I didn't knock him and the pulpit
     right  off  the  platform.    How  embarrassing!   Everybody  laughed,
     including me, and craning my  head around the pastor's right shoulder,
     I announced,  a little too  loudly, Karen was  coming to sing  and sat
     back down.  I'm sure I had a red face.  It wasn't any big deal, and as
     easy  going as the  pastor was,  it didn't  even phase  him.   I never
     forgot it, however, but until recently, I never realized the pain that
     was hidden in that embarrassing experience.

          Since two other embarrassing memories  had recently come to mind,
     which  the Lord administered  renewing, I wondered  about this memory.
     Besides,  every  time this  embarrassing  experience came  to  mind, I
     grimaced inwardly.   I tried  laughing it  off, but  since the  memory
     itself continually returned,  I finally stopped and asked  the Lord if
     something was wrong.

          Of course, I recognized the humor.  It was funny, after  all, but
     there was something  else I kept overlooking;  I was blind.   When the
     memory reversed, that is, when the  Holy Spirit allowed me to see  the
     memory from the vantage point of the audience, I saw the  blind person
     poking his  head out  and around  from the  right side  of the  pastor
     standing at  the pulpit.  He, the  blind person, was making  a joke of
     the whole thing, as if things like this happened every day to him, but
     realizing  the blind  person, who  was  me, of  course, felt  horribly
     blind.

          I had never seen this memory from  the front but when I did  this
     time, I ask  the Lord what I  needed to know because I  simply did not
     understand what I was  seeing or feeling.  To me,  it was just another
     blind experience so  how could anything  be wrong.   When I asked  the
     Lord to show me  His truth, I suddenly  saw Jesus standing off to  the
     right of the platform about  ten feet away.  I smiled.   No words were
     spoken but I knew what this meant; Jesus was there and He wasn't going
     to allow  my blindness to  hurt me  even in this  embarrassing moment.
     Now, whenever this memory appears, guess what I see?  That's right.  I
     see  the memory  always  from the  front and  I immediately  see Jesus
     standing over to one side.

          The word "renew," or "renewing of the mind," in the New Testament
     means to rebuild or to remodel.  Look it up for yourself  if you doubt
     it.  In this embarrassing memory, a blind man suddenly ran  right into
     his own blindness.   No, the blindness wasn't  embarrassing but hidden
     in  the back  of my  mind  was the  idea that  this  would have  never
     happened if I wasn't blind.  So what  did Jesus do?  He appeared.  His
     appearance  rebuilt the  memory, or  renewed  my mind,  simply by  his
     presence.  I  don't often see Jesus  in any of  my memories.  In  this
     case, He said nothing  but showed up  to let me know  that He was  the
     Lord of even this embarrassing blind experience.  Did you hear it?  He
     is Lord.

          This type of  embarrassing moment has happened three  times to me
     now and  in all  three cases,  I was  blind but  never recognized  the
     woundedness I felt until Jesus showed up and took the  pain away.  So,
     once I was blind but now I see because I see what Jesus saw.  Thus, it
     can't hurt me any more.

          Where does Jesus stand in your life today?  Is  he Lord or is the
     pain still there where He wants to stand?  Yes, I know it isn't always
     easy to  recognize the truth for  what it is.   If I can help,  let me
     know and we'll pray and find  out what is blocking you from  the truth
     that Jesus is Lord of everything.  Let's see together what Jesus wants
     you to see.


                               End Of Document

     Safe Place Fellowship
     Phil Scovell
     Denver, Colorado - Mountain Time Zone
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