A Week in the Life
By Ralph LaMont (edited by Steven J. Cole)
(A friend of mine who is now with the Lord wrote this many years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it. His main point is well worth pondering often.)
That fateful week began and progressed as normal for the great majority of Christendom. Oh, this week was quite different, but only a few Christians would notice the difference. Far too few!
One minister arose early on Sunday to review the sermon that he had prepared for the morning service. Everything seemed to be quite in order. He would begin his three-point evangelistic message with a Scripture verse or two. He had been taught that this was the only way to begin. Then he had included the quote from Time magazine, the touching poem, and several amusing anecdotes. And, of course, he would conclude with a powerful challenge and then an emotional appeal to come forward and make a decision. “Yes,” he thought, “this one has been planned perfectly. It ought to produce great results.” As he reread the sermon for the last time, it was obvious that he didn’t notice the difference.
Across the country another pastor had arisen early to review his miracle of modern exegesis. He had good reason to be proud of this message. He had spent hours researching and preparing it. He knew the derivation and construction of every Greek word in the passage. He had also made use of his vast library to select the best observations on the passage from the commentaries of the greatest biblical scholars of all times. And, of course, he was no intellectual midget himself. He was the only pastor in his area with an earned Ph.D. As he double-checked his scholarly masterpiece for the last time, he was also unaware of the difference.
Sunday morning services throughout the country went exactly as planned. Each sanctuary was full of smiling, well-dressed Christians. The organ prelude, the hymns, the Scripture reading, the announcements, and the vocal solos all went smoothly. In fact, the people responded to the ministers’ pleas and the offerings were larger than usual. Even the closing invitations were a success. As the congregation finished the chorus of “Just As I Am” for the third time, many responded and came forward for salvation, rededication, and church membership. The ministers were quite pleased. The parishioners looked happy and contented as they filed out and were greeted by their pastor at the door. Evidently, none of these Christians had noticed the difference.
Sunday school also had gone exactly according to plans. Each of the teachers had followed his lesson plan to the letter. Of course, some of the students had gotten a little bored, but no more than usual. And the attendance was up a bit. As the teachers said to themselves, “Whew! That’s over with for another week!” none of them seemed to notice the difference.
The week continued on flawlessly. Oh, the attendance was down at the evening service and at the mid-week prayer meeting. But that was expected. People are busy, you know! And, of course, there was an especially good movie on TV Wednesday night. The few who gathered to pray asked God to bring the backsliders back to prayer meeting, and they also asked Him to bless all the missionaries. The church banquet on Friday night was a tremendous success, as they received enough faith-pledges for the down payment on the new sanctuary.
Some members of the church had even witnessed during the week. Take John, for example. He felt that he had been a little lax about witnessing, so he screwed up his courage and went over to share the Laws with his neighbor, Bob. Although Bob hadn’t seemed too interested, John knew that he mustn’t let anything detract him from his purpose, and so he kept right on to the prayer at the end. Although Bob didn’t pray the prayer right then, John felt good because he had been able to share with him. “At least he knows the gospel now. I’ve done my part,” thought John. But neither John nor anyone else in the church had noticed the difference that week. In fact, few would have noticed the difference in an entire year!
But there were some Christians and a few churches that did notice the difference. One pastor had a most frustrating week. He knew his Greek, and he was a careful student of the Word. But he had struggled all week, and still could not comprehend the passage he intended to preach on. The Bible seemed like a dead book to him. He also was extremely nervous and irritable all week. He argued with his wife and yelled at his kids. His joy was gone. He was confused and perplexed. But he did notice the difference!
Some churches also became aware that something was desperately wrong. The love that normally characterized them was gone. There were disagreements and personality clashes. Their attempts at prayer were lifeless. Their singing was unenthusiastic. Their desire to study the Word vanished. In fact, their desire to meet together at all was lacking, and many decided before the week was over that they would not even bother to come the next Sunday. They didn’t know what was wrong, but they definitely did notice the difference!
Some of those who did not notice the difference offered their opinions to those who did notice the difference. They suggested that they might have some secret sin in their lives. They also thought that some of them had been living on an emotional high. “It’s not natural to always have joy and peace like you were having,” they said. “You had to come down to where we all live sooner or later.”
They were right! It hadn’t been natural.
Just why was this week so different? What was there about this week that made it different from any other week?
Well, you see, God had decided to see which Christians were living in dependence upon His Holy Spirit, and which were depending on their own intellect and man-made plans to live the Christian life. And so He completely withdrew His Holy Spirit from the earth for the entire week!
Think about it! Would you notice the difference?