Jimmy's Short Dry Sermon
Jimmy would often preach on for an hour and a half or so, wearing folks out at times, especially visitors who were used to hearing twenty to thirty minute sermons. This Sunday morning was different, I mean really different.
Preaching from the gospel of John chapter four about Christ being the living water, Jimmy started reading at John 4:7, where the Lord said to the woman of Samaria "Give Me a drink." As he continued through that chapter, he read in verse ten where Christ said "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
Continuing on down, Christ mentions something about a "drink of water" and "thirst", at least five more times, and when Jimmy said that if you drink this water you shall spring up to eternal life, the lady visitor, sitting on the front pew right in front of me, sprang up. She then strolled up to the podium where Jimmy kept a pitcher and glass of water, filled up the glass, calmly walked back to her pew and one by one gave all five of her runny nosed kids a drink.
When she finished, she took a swallow herself, walked back up to the podium, calmly refilled the glass, and sat back down. The whole church (about fifty of us), fell totally silent, with our mouths gapping open in disbelief; except Jimmy. He never missed a word. But about thirty minutes into his message, his mouth and throat got dry. (Between the hot church, him being so long winded, and his allergy medicine giving him cotton mouth, he went through two or three glasses of water every Sunday).
As he reached down to grab the water, he noticed our visitor handing out Kleenex to her kids and envisioned all of them drinking out of his glass. He immediately put the glass back down. As he continued to preach, about five minutes later he found he just couldn't take it any longer. He then said "due to the hot weather and that old AC just not working like it ought to, we're gonna finish up part two of this message next week." He got a rousing "amen brother" from the men, prayed his shortest prayer ever, then dismissed us.
As everyone left, Jimmy would always stand at the front door to thank everyone for coming, and invite them back. Being the preacher's wife, I stood nearby and shook everyone's hand. As our lady visitor was leaving, Jimmy said the same thing to her, and she said "I sure will be back preacher. This is the only church around here that has a pitcher of water for folks to drink. And on this hot day, with all my kids having a cold, they sure needed it. Of course, you preachin about drinkin water and thirst got me thirsty too." With her warm, innocent smile, we couldn't say a word.
Sure enough, they came back the very next week. This time everyone was healthy, and they didn't drink the water (they somehow got the word). And within a few months they also got something else. All six of them, the mom and those precious children, came to know Christ.
One beautiful Sunday morning in mid December Jimmy baptized all of them. It was the first time that her husband had ever set foot in a church. He cried when the youngest one, his five year old son, gave his testimony.
About a year later, Jimmy baptized the father too. Eventually he heard about the water story and got a big laugh out of it. His wife did also. They were good people.
There was something about Jimmy having that water setting out that Sunday morning that seemed to make a difference, at least to our visitors. He thought about putting it inside the podium, hidden away, but decided to keep it out from then on. After all, Jimmy said "it was part of God's plan that led to filling a few of His children with living water."
Footnote: This article is dedicated to one of my best friends, Esther Carmichael, Jimmy's wife who told me this mostly true story. She went on to be with the Lord in 2001, age 86. I had the privilege of doing her eulogy.
All Scripture references are from the NASB, and are mostly a personal paraphrase.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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