"I have longed…to come to you…" – Romans 15:23
Back in the late 1970s, while attending Westminster Theological Seminary, I got a job one summer working at a Baptist Church near Pontiac, Michigan. I was hired to be the youth pastor and the custodian. (These two jobs were in diametrical opposition to one another: encouraging teenage youth to come out and have a great time while trying to keep the building clean and neat.) That same summer, my close friend, Gene Johnson, was working for his brother who owned an A&W Root Beer stand. As I recall, customers could come into the A&W and order a drink or they could simply wait in their car and a teenage girl would come to the car, take the order and then deliver what was ordered. Many times, after some evening youth group event had ended, I would drive over to the A&W and help my friend and his brother close up. That always involved getting a free root beer. That was a treat. After that, Gene and I often headed back to his parents' home where, in the basement, we would watch Fernwood 2 Night. I have only the fondest memories of that entire summer.
One day, for a reason I cannot recall, I had to drive to Detroit. It was a hot day and my car didn't have air conditioning. As I left Detroit, heading north towards Pontiac, I started thinking about A&W root beer and about drinking a big glass of that tasty ale. The traffic was heavy and it was getting hotter as time went by. Mile after mile I drove and the longer I drove the more I longed for an A&W root beer. As the traffic finally cleared out I am sure I sped up as I thought about having a drink. I was SO HOT and SO THIRSTY and that root beer would taste SO GOOD! I could hardly wait to get there. Finally I arrived at the stand. A girl came out to the car and I immediately blurted out that I wanted the largest root beer they had. She smiled, and went back inside. And then, after what seemed like an eternity, she came back to the car with nothing in her hand. She then asked, "Do you want that in a glass or a carton?" "I DON'T CARE!" I immediately blurted out. All I knew was that I felt like I was going to die and I NEEDED that drink right away! Soon she brought out my drink (in a glass) and…ahhh…a feeling of tremendous pleasure came over me. It tasted so good. I was finally satisfied.
Some of you, I know, have had that sort of longing for church. You have told me so. One said, "I don't care how it is. I don't care what I have to do or what I have to wear. Where two or three are gathered together…that's what needs to happen and the sooner the better!" You have been thinking about coming together for awhile and today…finally…you get what you have been longing for. I hope it is like a pleasure coming over you and "tastes" real good. I pray you leave satisfied.