Today the hubby and I are on the Coast, just south of Little River, CA, on our annual honeymoon, so we didn’t go to our home church. Instead, we attended the Presbyterian Church in Mendocino, CA. What a beautiful setting! The church, near the edge of the bay, forms part of the famous Mendocino skyline. Therefore, the synopsis today is of Pastor Don McCullough’s sermon rather than Pastor Shim’s sermon—but never fear, Pastor Shim said he would send me his notes. His synopsis should be placed here later this week.
Pastor McCullough asked us to think about how we are all becoming addicted to speed. Not so many years back, he was amazed to find how, with the internet, he was able to access information from a San Francisco library within minutes. Instead of spending hours traveling to the library, finding a parking place, searching the files, and finally finding the book he wanted, going back home, etc., now he could gather information he wanted within just minutes. And yet, now, we are impatient if the information isn’t at our fingertips within seconds. It used to be when a man and wife traveled, the man would insist (for hours, if necessary) that of course he knew where he was going and how to get there. By the time his wife finally convinced him to stop and ask for directions, they might be hours late for whatever. Now—we have GPS which gives us a map and verbal directions within seconds of our request. Just punch a button, and there it is.
These things are fine—but realize, too, that some things are worth waiting for. Impatience robs us of love and of joy. If we are always impatient for tomorrow, we miss the joy of today. If we are impatient to find love, we accept the wrong thing in place of what should be. If we are impatient for the next thing, we miss the joy of what’s happening now.
Pastor McCullough said he didn’t have many regrets in life, but one he does have is his impatience to get to his next destination when he was younger. For instance, while a student in Edinburgh, Scotland, he wanted to get his post-graduate studies (that normally would take four years) done in two so he could hurry up and become a pastor. He never made the side trips to Germany, Spain, and France that many of the other students took.
He likened impatience to robbery. His house was broken into some years back, and the police warned him that houses that are broken into once usually suffer the same thing again. Sure enough, less than a year later, thieves again broke into his house and stole his new television, stereo, etc. Impatience robs us in the same way.
The pastor asked if anyone in the congregation golfed, then asked, “Have you ever seen a happy golfer?” Golfers typically mourn over that one shot they made which was so great, or wish for the day when they will break par. He was the same way. He had very nearly given up on golf entirely, but was shamed into golfing at St. Andrews while he was in Edinburgh. After all, he did golf and he was living in Edinburgh, and St. Andrews is to golfers what Jerusalem is to Jews and Mecca is to Muslims. Finally, he called and asked for a tee time. Unfortunately, the golf course had no available spots when he asked. He breathed a sigh of relief—he could say that he tried, but no tee times were available. His sigh of relief was short-lived, though, because St. Andrews called him back and said there had been a cancellation. He arrived at St. Andrews nervous. Oh, no—the beginning of the course was in front of a large crowd of people (there's always a large crowd there) and the picture window at the club house where dozens of no doubt expert golfers gathered to watch the others tee off. Of course, he blew the first swing terribly, the ball flying (or crawling, perhaps?) only a few short feet. A by-stander waited for him by his ball, possibly an employee of St. Andrews. The man advised Pastor McCullough he should go directly to the 18th hole rather than attempting the whole course.
He asked if anyone knew the two most important things a golfing pro tells you. One was keeping the left arm straight—but the other is “Keep your eye on the ball.” While at St. Andrews, he forgot that very basic instruction and took his eyes off the ball, focused instead on where he hoped the ball would go. We tend to be like that—we focus on the future and forget to enjoy today.
The scripture Pastor McCullough preached from today was James 5:7-11. People might say that the first-century church was too focused on the immediate return of Jesus. James said we should be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. What if we instead take that to mean that we should focus on now, because He is near. Near to us now. What if we are so impatient for tomorrow that we miss what He wants for us now, today? Each moment is pregnant with the presence of the Lord, what He would reveal to us now. Remember the fruits of the Spirit spoken of in Galatians 5:22: Love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, etc. Don’t let impatience for some day or event in the future rob you of the joy and the love in what God has in store for you.
Dr. Don McCullough, Pastor
Mendocino Presbyterian Church
44831 Main Street * PO Box 105 * Mendocino, CA 95460
Telephone 707-937-5441 * www.mendopres.org