Preachers know this truth very well — that if you're going to preach about it, you're going to have to experience it!
And Thursday of last week, God permitted me to go through one of those perfect storms; It was a day that . . . if something could go wrong, it did. The Shirelles hit song of the late 1950s, "Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This" certainly rang true that day.
It started in the early morning when I met our school-teacher-daughter Randi and her seven beautiful children at school as I do every day — to retrieve the three youngest boys and take them home for Grandma (Cici) to keep. Only on this day, the kids came barreling out of the van — along with Randi's huge cart filled with teacher stuff — dumped all over on the parking lot, with papers, books, a laptop, lunch, water jug and a dozen other paraphernalia — and kids. Since she captured this fiasco on her phone camera (as she does most every event of her life and puts it on Facebook), the whole incident was like an avalanche in slow motion.
After I get the three baby boys deposited and all seemed well at home, I make my daily 12-mile trek to my church in Palmer. On my agenda was to record my Facebook devotional. While I was almost two-thirds finished with it, the phone rang (should have turned off the ringer!). It was Grandma (Cici).
"My doctor's appointment has been changed from 2 p.m. to 11:15 am. Can you come home and keep the babies?" she asked (it was 9:45 a.m. at this time).
I'm just getting back into Waxahachie when the phone rings. It's Randi.
"Dad, I need for you to come get the 'big 4.' A water line is busted at the school, and there's no water. Kids have to go home."
I retorted, "Well baby, I'm about home now to keep the little three while your mom goes to the doctor."
"Oh, okay, no problem, I'll just bring them by," she said.
So here I am, at home — with seven kids, ranging from almost 11 years old down to 11 months. Three of the boys decided they'd take a bath. I hear this commotion in the bathroom and walk in to discover baby Lane turned on the jets before the water filled up over them, sending a stream of water basically all over the bathroom.
A few minutes later while I'm in the living room, either baking chicken nuggets or changing a dirty diaper (don't recall which), when I hear this crashing sound of breaking glass. We discover that, for no known reason, the light fixture in the ceiling of the master bath shower decided to come loose and crash to the floor of the shower.
Oh but that's not all: just as I was about to walk out the door to head back to Palmer, I heard Cici yell. When I walked back into the kitchen, I discovered she had stumbled over 4-year-old Landry Jack, and was sprawled out on the kitchen floor.
Later that evening, I get a call from a deacon saying, "Did you remember Saturday morning deacon's meeting?" Well, heck no! Cici and I had planned a trip to east Texas Saturday to have lunch with some old schoolmates. I double-booked, as I often do.
Oh, did I mention that I had recently preached a romping, stomping message on trials?
After writing all of this down, I can actually see some humor in the day's comedy of errors. But my Thursday mishaps are trite, compared to the many of you who are reading this and are going through severe testings and trials — trials which include having lost a spouse, getting a bad report from the doctor, wondering where the next meal is coming from, taking a sick baby to Children's Hospital — perhaps all the while, battling symptoms of some dreaded disease of your own.
In no way do I intend for my experiences of last Thursday to trivialize the deep, disturbing, heartbreaking issues of life with which you deal. But whether your issues are annoyingly funny or potentially catastrophic, you can claim, as I had to do Thursday, the Savior's promise, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
And He won't, regardless of whether you are having a series of little nagging issues of the day or going through something deep and dark.
No matter what you're going through, remember what God told Joshua In Joshua 1:5 as he was about to embark upon leading the Israelites into the promised land: "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."
And He will be with you too — all the way through.