A Strange Lord’s Day

It happened Friday morning. I was awakened to a little congestion, and while my dear wife said, “Listen to your body,” I could hear Coach Witherspoon’s voice (my high school track coach) in my head saying, “No pain; no gain.” So I ran my usual 2 ½ miles. By Friday night I was feeling miserable and along with my cough, I was feeling nauseated. To fight off the “tossing of my cookies” I slept (loosely speaking) in the recliner which was successful until dawn when I charged into our bathroom with the drive heaves. (I know: Too Much Information) Now, it is Sunday, and although I feel better, there is that residual effect of feeling that I have been run over by truck.

However, there is one thing that makes today different from the last 35 years: I don’t have any Sunday responsibilities at church. In the olden days (before I retired), no matter how horrible I was feeling, I went on to church, taught or preached, or both. It mattered not how badly my voice sounded, or how badly I was coughing and wheezing; I went because I hated calling someone at the last minute to take my place.

I can only remember twice in all those years when I wasn’t able to gut it out and fulfill my responsibilities to the Lord’s people. Once, in my first pastorate, I had bronchial pneumonia so badly I was sleeping in a chair to be able to breathe, and I was throwing up because no one told me to take food with my antibiotics. I was determined to be there, but I was so sick I could not walk across my living room, so, early on that Easter Sunday morning I called our other minister, Chuck Brawley, and he graciously stepped in and preached a sun rise service (which tells you how early in the morning I made that phone call), along with our two regular worship services. (I still feel guilty over doing that to him) The second time I was AWOL was at FBC Mauriceville, when I woke up throwing up on Sunday morning, and called C. W. Williams, a retired pastor, to pinch hit for me. Oh, yes, there was also the time that Caleb busted his head open in the church nursery during Sunday School in Shreveport, and I took him to the emergency room. One of my deacons, Bobby Boykin, never again asked me, “Is there anything I can do to help?”

So, today, on this Lord’s Day, I have missed being with God’s people, but I am remembering the Lord’s Day to keep it holy from my recliner in the living room. It is not the best; being with God’s people is the best, but it will have to do. And, next week, I will look forward to “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25).

PS: There may have been other times that I am not sure about. Charles Miller may have preached for me the Sunday after my Dad went to be with the Lord, but my memory is sketchy. I am just grateful for anyone who stepped in at the zero hour to open God’s Word when he was not able to prepare properly to do such an important task.

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