Preaching in the Ohio Valley has many special blessings to enjoy. There are several strong faithful congregations around that work together for the cause of Christ and can help one another in many ways. Being so close to one another affords us many opportunities to attend one another's Gospel meetings and once in a while even to exchange pulpits.
On one occasion I had the opportunity to exchange pulpits with a brother on a Sunday morning. I taught the morning Bible class and preached the morning lesson. I had been there before several times to visit them during Gospel meetings but never preached for them before. It was a small congregation like the one for which I preached and felt right at home with these fine brethren. I chose to use a sermon that morning that I had heard about 30 years before and I had already preached it at home as well. The sermon was titled, "The Day Christ Came Again" and the first time I had heard it I enjoyed it very much. I made some changes, but it was still about the same as I remembered it.
The audience was very attentive and even the children seemed to be extra quiet as they listened to the lesson. Just as I got to the place where there was darkness all around and many in the lesson were trying to find a place to hide from the Lord, all of the lights went out in the building. To this day nobody knows why they went out, but it was as if they were turned out at just the right time. I heard some faint sighs from the audience, but all that I was thinking was if the lights would come back on before I lost my place in the sermon. The building was located in the country and I was glad that it had many windows that allowed me to see. Even though the lights were only out for about 30 seconds, it seemed like a lot longer.
After the service was over, as I was speaking to many as they went out the door, I heard one sweet old sister talking to my wife. "That was a very good sermon and for a moment I really thought that it was the end of time, but I have one question to ask you. Just how did he get those lights to go out right on time?"
The apostle Paul is better known for his preaching than his tent-making, even though he did both. There were times when he had to support himself as he preached the Gospel in some areas. When one preaches for some congregations that are small in number, he finds it necessary to seek other work along with working with the church. Just look at the ads in the brotherhood papers of congregations that need such help.
I decided to find employment to help supplement my income so that I could still preach for a faithful but small congregation close to my hometown. The work wasn't hard, but I had to work all three turns, including the dreaded midnight turn or grave yard shift. Having worked seven midnight turns in a row I was very tired, but still found it hard to sleep right. My wife, Vera, and I decided to go out to eat and do some shopping for the evening. I got dressed and we left for the restaurant in a nearby mall where we could shop, too. Vera drove for I was still a little tired, hoping that after a meal and a walk in the mall I would be able to sleep better when we got home.
The hostess took us to our table and the waitress took our order. While we were waiting for our food my wife moved her foot under the table, after which she looked under the table at my feet. Vera started laughing and laughed so hard that she couldn't tell me what was so funny. When my wife regained her composure, she told me to look at my shoes. There they were. I had put two different shoes on and neither of us noticed it when we left the house. One shoe was a white tennis shoe and the other was a large, bulky, black, steel-toed work boot.
To add to my embarrassment, when the waitress came with our food, my wife was laughing again. The waitress asked what was funny and I told her that she didn't want to know. However, she insisted. When I put both feet into the aisle the waitress could not contain herself. She laughed so hard that she had to sit down beside me to keep from spilling the food on us.
She said that she had a bad day and this was the best thing that could have happened to her. The show wasn't over yet! Our waitress went back to the kitchen and told all the other waitresses. One by one they walked by to see the man with the two different shoes.
Vera would neither walk out of the restaurant with me nor accompany me in the mall. It has been several years now since this happened and every time we go to this restaurant, the waitress still looks at my feet and smiles.