The "Not Normal" Service


By: Jim Eschenbacher

I wasn’t sure I would write about this past Sunday’s sermon because it was not normal. Isn’t that a weird thought… normal service? I have heard a definition of normal that goes something like this: A familiar rut. A rut with both ends dammed up is a grave, so normal could be a grave. Walk carefully.

Anyway, this past Sunday, being the 5th Sunday of the month, was special, which is a word we use for ‘not normal’. At Mountain Vista Bible Church, the leaders have chosen to let the youth lead the service whenever it is a 5th Sunday in a month. I decided to paraphrase the message, even though it was special, and because it was special. The youth presented the message in  a skit and in music and in Bible reading.

The message was about king David. Before he was king, he slew Goliath, a giant who withstood the Israeli army. Goliath challenged the army of God’s people to a dual… winner takes all. David happened onto the scene and accepted the challenge. But, he had to get over, around, or through, some obstacles. He was too young to be a fighter in the army. His own brothers said disparaging things to him, about him. He pressed through all of that and even withstood Saul’s attempts to “help” him by offering his armor. David eventually faced the giant with his slingshot and 5 smooth stones. Because God was with him, he only needed one stone.

 Later, when David was king, he opted out of going to war and stayed home, where he stood on his roof and watched a young woman undress and bathe on her roof. He told one of his servants to bring her to him and he sinned. We know her name was Bathsheba. In this case he did not push past the obstacles. The obstacle of “pride” was mentioned. Perhaps he thought, “I am the king; I don’t need to go fight. The army can take care of it.” 

 I looked back at the story of David as recorded in Samuel and Kings. I found an interesting verse in Samuel:

1 Samuel 17:2… I will come upon David while he is weary and discouraged and throw him into a panic, and all the people who are with him will flee.

 This was spoken by Athiophel, a commander during the time of Absolom’s rebellion. Absolom tried to take over his father, David’s, throne.  Athiophel was a warrior leader of the rebellion. Notice the obstacles in David’s path as delineated by Athiophel… weariness and discouragement.

 Have you ever been weary or discouraged? By themselves those obstacles were not lethal, but because of them, he figured he could throw David into a panic. David’s panic would debilitate him and his supporters would leave his side. Alone, he was no match for Athiophel and the army of the enemy. The challenge of the message on Sunday was to remove obstacles from our paths as they appear. Can you recognize any obstacles that are placed to stop you from following Jesus? Before we are debilitated, we can effectively remove obstacles.

The youth found enjoyment in kicking the obstacles out of the way. That is the visual with which we face obstacles. We don’t embrace them. We don’t listen to their story, we don’t tolerate them; we kick them out of the way.

If a person has been given to you as an obstacle, treat him or her with kindness and love, as Jesus would, but remove them from your path.

I, personally, love kids. I love their laughter and their freedom. I drove a school bus for a year and my boss chided me for letting the kids get too loud. I said, “They’re kids, for crying out loud.” I quit that job after a year because I didn’t fit.  Anyway, Sunday was loud with kids and I loved it. Yes, it was different but isn’t that often our teacher… difference? When we always, only, get what we expect and want, we are doomed to repeat. God will, then, send it in a different package.