Today (when I wrote this) marks one year since I gave my first sermon! On May 15th, 2022, I got the chance to preach in front of my home church, First Baptist in Kings Mountain. A part of me wonders why God has put me in the position I am today because for anyone who knows me (and the youth at Bethlehem don’t let me forget it) knows that I have a really bad stage fright. However, I don’t want to make this post about me but about what God has done and is doing in the ministry He has put me in. So… if you’re wanting to hear God being glorified in my life, strap in and let’s dive into it.
I am a worrier. Not warrior… worrier. Even though throughout the gospels and entire Bible it warns us to, in fact, not worry or be anxious about anything. And oftentimes, I try not to worry, but my emotions just take over. However, God’s grace always comes through. I have given a whopping four sermons in my life in front of a congregation. Two at FBCKM, one at Bethlehem Baptist, and one in FBC San Ignacio in Honduras. And I can honestly say that none of them got any easier. Before it was time to get up there, my hands were sweaty, my stomach in knots, and occasionally sweating through my shoes. John Harmon is a nervous wreck when it comes to speaking in front of people. But this isn’t about me, it’s about the guy on the middle cross who I’m talking about on Sunday mornings. I’m a way better preacher than I am because of who is inside of me. I can boast proudly of the Lord because all four times, when I would walk up on stage and turn to face the audience who was there to hear what the Spirit put on my heart, my anxieties were calmed and everything was still. It’s like a peace I can never explain.
In my first sermon, I began with some stutters and rapid talking but out of nowhere, I began to grow in passion and volume. I actually felt like some 50 year-old hellfire-brimstone pastor who had been doing it for years. Here is some awkward 20 year-old with no seminary degree or anything and I’m trying to passionately tell people to repent and put their faith in Christ. But maybe that is the point. Maybe God can use anyone for His purpose and His glory. Actually, there is no maybe to it. I decided on June 24, 2021 that Christ was going to have His way in my life and I’ll be danged… He actually did! I’m not qualified according to human standards to tell anyone anything! But because He set me free, because He died in my place, because He rose from the grave, because my name is on His heart, because He lives, I am considered worthy. I am considered qualified because He qualified me with His own Spirit.
Notice a little trend there? It all goes back to Him. I need to do better and every Christian needs to do better at boasting in Christ. We have nothing to boast about in ourselves! “Congrats John Harmon, your sins crucified Jesus on the cross and you continue to sin regularly! But hey… you’re doing well on stage and are good with youth and can hit a softball kinda far.” So what? I love how Isaiah puts it: all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. If it weren’t for the Godhead three in one, I would be lost! I have nothing but some dirty rags to brag about. But because of Him… I can be a better youth pastor, a better husband, a better friend, and so much more.
I still struggle with the sin of worry (yes – if you dwell on anxiety so much it hinders your walk, it is a sin). However, I have seen it first hand, Christ has shown up every time. It may not have been how I wanted but He did! I wish as soon as I prayed one little prayer my stomach would settle and my sweat would stop but it doesn’t. BUT, when it’s time to go, He never fails. I baptized my sister on Easter this year and I was a mess waiting to go up to that baptistry! Arguably the most nervous I’ve ever been – I’m talking hands and knees shaking. As I was robing up, I called to the Lord one more time and wouldn’t you believe it, my anxieties stopped. My heart began to slow and I was ready to go. My equipper was equipping me.
And the coolest thing happened. After baptizing Sarah Beth, 12 more followed after putting their trust in the Lord. And I would gladly go through that again for the same result. I was so nervous, but I can boldly say that if my weakness continues to bring God’s strength out in my life, then I’ll rejoice every day because of it.
I’m not a very “sugar-coating” guy. I like to just say it how it is and not waste anyone’s time… so here comes the application you can ignore or listen to: stop making excuses for yourself and start using them for God’s glory. I don’t know why God won’t take my anxiety away. I don’t know why God won’t give some couples children. I don’t know why God won’t take the disease from you or a relative. I don’t know why God won’t get your finances figured out. I don’t know why God won’t lay all your plans out before you. I don’t think Job knew either. But you have 2 options in the end: take the hand you’ve been dealt and use it for His glory or sulk and make yourself miserable. It’s completely your call, but I’m going with the first option. Life has been amazing since I’ve decided to do so! Not because God just blessed me more than others but because I have a living hope and a living peace knowing I’m on the winning side regardless of the situation! And you can be too.
Always winning because of the Lord.