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
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
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
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
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