An early start turns out well

Published 10:01 pm Saturday, October 8, 2011

Every once in a while, a day starts out just wonderfully.

Even though it required me to be awake far earlier than I might have been after working until 11 p.m. Friday night, Saturday turned out to be one of those days.

Hopping into my car at 7:30 a.m., I headed for Turlington Road, where I had an 8 a.m. engagement with a group of about a dozen men at Calvary Baptist Missionary Church. My stomach was churning, and my nerves were jangled from tension and a jolt of early morning caffeine.


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As I drove, I tried not to focus too much on the devotional I had been asked to deliver to the church’s men’s group, but I also couldn’t help worrying whether my words would be appropriate, my delivery interesting, my message too elementary for this fine group of fellows. I began to wonder whether Moses, who convinced God to allow him a spokesman, was onto something.

But as I arrived in the fellowship hall of the small church and noticed the smoky haze that lingered from what I took to be an earlier bacon mishap, I reckoned that I couldn’t be too far out of my league. These men obviously loved their bacon, but the smoke told me that maybe they weren’t any more comfortable in the kitchen than I am.

Soon, I found that they were entirely gracious hosts, who made me feel comfortable, loved and welcome at their small monthly breakfast meeting. And the food was delicious, after all, a fact that always ranks high on any list I’m keeping.

I’d said a little prayer for strength and confidence before getting out of my car, and I said another as Pastor Lin Stanworth introduced me to the other men, and then I found myself headed for the podium, mouth suddenly parched and voice prepared to do that little cracking thing that always betrays my nervousness to any group where I’ve been asked to speak.

I should note that if it’s true that I’ve got a face made for radio — and you can judge that for yourself — I also contend that I’ve got a speaking voice made for newspapers. My normally tenor tone seems eager to creep into the upper alto range whenever I have a speaking engagement.

Unlike Moses, however, I don’t have a spokesman, and I am occasionally asked to speak to groups of people. The joke’s on me, of course: Nobody listens to me at home, so I have to go and speak to community organizations with semi-captive audiences in order to be heard. (But don’t feel obliged to tell my wife I wrote that, OK?)

The men at Calvary Baptist Missionary were attentive, warm and responsive to my message, however amateurish and elementary it might have been. God, bless them for that.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “Iron sharpens iron/So one man sharpens another.”

Leaving the men’s breakfast on Saturday, I thanked God for men who put that verse to work so well every month. And I thanked him for a wonderful — if early — start for my day.