It’s Saturday night in your town, that community that you call “home.” That dark area where the Lord raised up your church to shine forth the light of the glorious gospel of Christ. That place where God planted you, expecting you to bring forth fruit. While you might be making final tweaks to your sermon, or fine-tuning your Sunday school lesson, or just getting your kids’ clothes ready for tomorrow, others are engaged in a battle for everything important in life.
It’s Saturday night in your town. That functioning addict just succumbed to his besetting sin for the final time before the church bells toll tomorrow morning. He comes every Sunday. He’s looking for hope. He’s reaching out for help. He’s looking for answers. The 11:00 hour each Sunday is the one time during his week when he has some hope.
It’s Saturday night in your town. That young couple fights and screams while their little boy covers his ears in the other room. Satan has them in his grip and their marriage at the edge of destruction. When they married, they never thought that it would be this way. They had dreams and hopes, just like you and your spouse did when you were wed. If you asked them, they couldn’t really tell you when things took a turn for the worse. They thought that a baby would make things better, but he only seemed to make things more complicated. They hate the way their life is, but they have no idea how to fix it. Before they go bed tonight, they agree to “give church a try” tomorrow. When they say that, they’re talking about your church.
It’s Saturday night in your town. Some teenage girl will lose her purity tonight. She might very well be a regular in your church, one that you would call “home grown.” She made some poor decisions this evening and put herself into a situation she couldn’t get herself out of. She’ll go home and go to bed racked with guilt. She’s heard all the sermons. She’s made a vow of purity and has worn a ring to prove it. Tonight, when she takes that ring off, she’s going to wonder if things will ever be the same.
It’s Saturday night in your town. A widow is going to bed alone…again. This past week was her wedding anniversary. The grief hits her at the most random times, but there are specific dates when it is certain to visit. She will toss and turn, eventually crying herself to sleep. “At least,” she thinks to herself, “I get to go to church tomorrow and hear from the Lord.”
It’s Saturday night in your town. It’s late when he hits the remote to turn off the television, not even knowing what he’s been watching. His mind is elsewhere. His memory has been flooded with the familiar noises of children running and playing, his wife cleaning the kitchen, and his teenage son talking on his cell phone. Once the television is turned off, the silence is deafening. How did it happen? How did he go from having so much to having so little? How did he go from being surrounded by family to sitting solitary in the family room of a house that is suddenly way too big? He doesn’t put all the blame on his wife; he realizes he made a lot of mistakes. If only he could have a second chance. He’ll be there tomorrow, probably sitting by himself.
It’s Saturday night in your town. Let me remind you about those people who are coming to your church tomorrow looking for help and hope. There are some things that are important to them, but whether or not that preacher that was accused this week is guilty or innocent is not one of them. They don’t care who’s conference you attended this week, or what conference you’re scheduled to speak at, or what conference you cancelled, or why. They don’t care where you went to college or where your church kids go to college. Your “favorite” preacher is a stranger to them. They won’t care how syncopated the quartet song will be or whether or not the choir special is on the “approved” list. They’re not interested in whether you believe in inspiration, preservation, both, or neither. They don’t care what the projected enrollment is at your Christian school or whether or not you think you’ll meet budget. They don’t care who is to blame for the recent mass shootings. Tomorrow, they won’t be thinking “red” or “blue”; they’ll only be thinking about the blackness of the hole in which they find themselves. Pastor, they don’t care how many hateful emails you received this week, and if you’re not the pastor, they don’t care how many emails you sent. Your opinion about whether or not the contractor painted the stripes straight on the parking lot after it was resealed means nothing to them.
It’s Saturday night in your town, and they are coming to your church tomorrow! Before you go to bed tonight, sign out of your email account; log out of your social media; disconnect from the Internet, and clear your mind. If you’ve sinned and you know it, confess it, and forsake it. Ask the Lord to help you to regain your focus, thinking only about things that really matter, not the ever-increasing mountain of minutia that distracts you. It’s Saturday night in your town, and someone is counting on you to help them tomorrow.