I am so incredibly disappointed. I had the camera all set to roll, checked the battery at the end of the sermon and it showed me that there was still life and I got really excited about having Bill’s message taped for the whole world to share. It was powerful. It was moving. And it did not record. I was heartsick when I realized that I ran out of memory on my SD card. That thing can handle a lot of input but eventually, as with everything else (human or not) we run out of space. This translates into my highly encouraging you to send in a blank DVD and ask for a copy. It truly was a message that everyone should hear, repeatedly.
Bill brought out the heavy hitters when it came to talking about friendships, relationships, honesty, trust, and companionship. He talked about loyalty and harboring the good while the negative gets forgiven, time and time again if it is a relationship worthy of our attention.
What relationship is not worthy of our attention? Granted some relationships are best left without much effort as they cause emotional, maybe even physical, harm to those we love or ourselves. A relationship to never discount is the one God offers. His is always tried and true. He will never leave you, even if you opt to leave him for a time. God will be there when you return, opening his arms of love, comfort, and compassion. A friendship that is timeless, endless, and perfect. God’s love is the only thing in this world that is perfect.
In our lives I think we have all run across those moments where we’ve messed up in a relationship. Regardless of our efforts to right the wrong, own our errs, we find stones of harsh words. A vacuum of negativity swirls around our lives. There are times that your poor choices not only impacts one relationship but also a plethora of interconnected relationships. Yet you try to make things right and in doing so it seems to only make matters worse. Those that are still with you, your family, remind you that time erases the negative and the stones will harbor the positive.
Disconnected from the source of the trouble you still carry the pocket of emptiness and forlorn with you. That emptiness starts to change as time passes, and the negativity follows you like a shroud. It becomes bitter and frustrated. Angry. Filled with questions of why she/he/they can act in such a despicable manner and have no consequences yet you’ve owned your mistake and are still being punished. The ultimate “why”.
The answer comes in Pastor Bill’s sermon. Often times Bill’s message to the kids is a simplified version of the message to the adults. There are times that the connection is loosely correlated, but there is some general commonality that cannot be missed. Yesterday’s children’s message and adult sermon were both right on target with each other, the connection clear as the sun rising in the eastern sky on a beautiful summer morning.
Bill stood next to his friend, a close friend, looking at the children sitting so patiently at the front of the church. Bill tells the children he’s going to share a story with them and his best friend is going to help…
Bill and his BFF (best friend forever) are walking down the road, it’s a sandy trail, and his BFF slaps him for no apparent reason. Bill stops to kneel down in the sand and writes, “My best friend slapped me in the face today.” He stands up and they continue to walk. Soon the two men begin to get hot and found a lake to cool themselves. Bill jumps into the lake and forgets he cannot swim. He goes under one time, then two times, and as he goes under for the third time yells, “Help!” The next thing he knows his BFF has him by the collar pulling him out of the water. Bill finds a stone and writes on it, “My best friend saved my life today.” The BFF turns to Bill and asks, “Bill, why did you write in the sand that I slapped you in the face, but on the stone you wrote I saved your life?” Bill replies, “Because the slap will blow away in the wind but saving my life will live forever.”
What does this mean? It means that the test of true friendships comes when we can let go of the mistakes, the slaps, and allow the truly positive nature of each relationship to keep us strong and united. It is here that we can choose to write the painful events in our life on stones or in the sand, and that includes the casting of blame, hostility toward God. We all should know that God’s love, his promises, are written in stone, and when we slap him in the face they are written in sand to blow away when our human anger, frustration, or hurt subside and we call upon him as a friend again.
The mistakes we make in our human form are here to help us become better people, every day. We are made to err because there is only one perfect person, and that is God. It is in our humility that we are offered forgiveness. It is in accepting our choices that we can grow to be more forgiving and understanding. Instead of allowing the sands of time to become the stones of our life, allow the negative energy to blow away. Along your journey God will stand with you when you lose a friend or make a friend, when you err or make a worthy choice. Those that are of human nature will stand with you or walk away as is their free will, but in the event that stones are cast far and wide, remember that they too can become sand if you opt to keep your faith.
Nobody is saying that a neighborhood of spiteful people will make your life easy to move positively forward as they shed so much negative energy on your front lawn. Remembering that these are not the only people that make up your world helps, but the most important guide is God and your bible. Remember…
“Soundness not Turmoil”
(New King James version)
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Isaiah 59: 19-20
There is not much more I can say about this sermon, about Bill’s talk. It was so profound. So incredibly moving, but I will let it rest here.