There are three boxes in my garage that stare at me every time I go near them. They contain what is left of my files from 2001 to 2014. Or to be more clear from my last 13 years of professional ministry.
What do they contain? They contain letters and correspondence from my earliest days of ministry. They contain drawings from all thirty years of ministry. Drawings made by children during church and given to me after church. Some of them are even caricatures of me. They contain memories of places I was privileged to preach and teach although most of those printed flyers were thrown out a few weeks ago.
What’s really there that I am struggling to get rid of? The sermons. Not just any sermons but one’s prepared for a church that God built. A church that was extended grace in its old age when most churches are going through the painful slow death that churches die. This church had a resurrection. Free from denominational restraints as far as boards, committees and even expectations, it flourished as a place to answer the call to reach unchurched people. Every sermon I preached in this context was a new one each week. They were written for a specific people and a specific time. They were gifts from God each week as I would sit in my chair and work first on paper and then on my laptop to create the sermon I thought God wanted. To the very end I did my best to remain faithful to God in preparing these messages. Even in my brokenness I tried to never compromise what I knew to be His truth; truth that I needed to hear as well.
Contained in these boxes is the manuscript, the worship design notes, the bulletin inserts, and the “production sheet” for each week’s service.
The question that haunts me is what do I do with these boxes? I no longer have the electronic version of them because my work computer was swiped clean before I had a chance to take my personal documents, letters, and thousands of pictures both personal and church related that were on it. (a loss I still grieve at times.) So here they are. Words to teach. Words to share. Teaching that is still legitimate even if I am not deemed to be so.
I am cleaning the garage today . . . I’ve thought about it all week. I even asked someone else recently what I should do with them and they said without hesitation that I should throw them away. . . I can’t do it. Maybe someday but not today. The sermons can still be heard and read at http://www.sermonhunt.com although I have not promoted that site. It’s like a career soldier giving up his rifle or a lifelong mechanic walking away from his tools. I will go back to them even if it is for just my study. I’ve read a few of them lately and I still see God’s handiwork in the writing and feel His Spirit stir my own soul.
For now I won’t throw them away. For now they will stay . . . all boxed up.