And the Modern Preacher (MP), who was sound and faithful in his message, dreamed a dream. In his dream he found a cell phone. Checking the numbers listed in it, he came across one that said The Apostle Paul (AP). In dreams, things seem possible that are not possible in real life. So the Modern Preacher dared to hope, and he dialed the number. What a surprise when ho was actually connected to Paul the apostle. It was, after all, just, a dream.
MP — Oh, Paul, what an honor! I never expected to actually get to talk to you. And this comes at such a good time.
AP — I also am glad to talk with a fellow preacher. But why does the timing of this call seem so good to you?
MP — Because this is a crucial time in my life and in my family. I’m having to make some decisions about my career as a preacher. In fact, I’m not sure I can continue to preach.
AP — Oh that is bad! Are you ill or injured?
MP — No, you misunderstand, brother Paul. It’s not a physical problem, I’m just so discouraged. In fact, I’ve been thinking about selling insurance or something.
AP — Oh, so you don’t mean that you can’t continue to preach, you mean that perhaps you don’t want to.
MP — That’s not what I mean at all. Of course I want to preach. But I am so discouraged that there is no joy in it anymore.
AP — You are saying you don’t enjoy spreading the Gospel of Christ? How could that possibly be? The spread of the Gospel gave me my chief joy, even when I was in prison for it (Phil. 1:18). Do you still have faith that the Gospel is God’s power to save men (Rom. 1:16)?
AP — Then how could you not have joy in preaching it? Do you still love the souls of men?
MP — Yes. But it costs me so much in sacrifice and effort. I want men to be saved, but there is a limit to what any man can endure.
AP — You know, I may not be the best person for you to complain to about how many sacrifices you have made for the cause. Have you gone hungry to preach (II Cor. 11:27)? Have you suffered shipwreck (II Cor. 11:25)? Have you suffered the loss of all things (Phil. 3:8)?
MP — No, nothing like that, but nobody wants to listen anymore. People actually get angry with you when you try to teach them the truth. It’s not like it was in your day.
AP — Oh really? Let me show you some scars. This one here on my scalp, it’s from when they stoned me and left me for dead in Lystra (Acts 14:19). Look at my back — I can’t even begin to tell you where all these scars come from. I’ve been beaten at least eight times for preaching the gospel (II Cor. 11:24-
MP — Yes, but full-
AP — Is your family engaged in behavior that would possibly cause others to stumble? Bo you want your children to have freedom to do wrong without being corrected by God’s people? Why complain that, they are under pressure to do right? That kind of pressure has got to be better than the pressure that satan and the world brings to bear on them to get them to do wrong.
MP — Yes, but I have had to move my children from school to school. And, every time we moved they had to make new friends. It’s so hard on them. I’ve actually been fired twice just for preaching the truth. Since you never had a wife and children, you just can’t understand how hard it is on them.
AP — I don’t want to downplay the sacrifices your family makes. It is always hard for a loving person to watch his children suffer sadness. But perhaps you need to be thankful you have them instead of using them as an excuse to shirk your duty as a preacher. You need to remember the value of a soul. Our Master gave up his life for souls. Can we do any less? It sounds like you are saying that taking men and women to heaven is not worth the sacrifices you and your family have had to make.
MP— But you just don’t understand, brother Paul. Why should my family and I make all these terrible sacrifices? I’ve given up so much, I’ve been treated so badly. And you can’t imagine the kind of salary my brethren think a preacher should be able to live on. That’s why this insurance thing looks so good. I have the chance to make serious money for the first time in my life . . . bzzzzz. Paul, Paul! Can you hear me now? bzzzzz. Hmm. What happened? We must have been disconnected. Could he have...? No, Paul wouldn’t have hung up on me, a fellow preacher. I’ll try to call him back tomorrow. Maybe he could give me some leads for some people who need a good whole-
Rusty Stark, Seek The Old Paths, July 2005