Irony is a great teacher and life is filled with ironic moments if we care to pay attention. Recently I preached a sermon about Esau. Had Esau been a better hunter, his life might have turned out a lot different. He was either unlucky or a poor shot. Either way, he came home from his hunt empty handed and so famished that he traded his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of stew.

Just the day before I preached this sermon I had been on my first hog hunt. I missed a wild boar with a .270 at close range. I could empathize with Esau, the poor soul. Not only did he have an empty stomach, but he was probably greatly depressed and a bit embarrassed upon his return home. He learned that making decisions with a bruised ego and an empty stomach isn’t a good idea.

In the same sermon, I also spoke about Peter, Jesus’ loudmouth disciple. I commented that Peter probably hated roosters. As the Passion week began, Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed. Peter didn’t believe him and told Jesus he’d die for him, but by morning Peter had fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy. Realizing what he had done, Peter wept bitterly when he heard the rooster crow. Peter likely heard a rooster crow every morning, a constant reminder of his sin. He probably hated roosters.

I used to hear a rooster every morning when I lived on a farm as a boy, but as I told my congregation, now that I live in the city, I never hear roosters crow. Life is filled with irony. I woke up at 5:15 a.m. on Thursday, five minutes before my alarm was set to sound off. As I awoke, I distinctly heard a rooster crow. At first I thought it might be a dream. Then I heard it again. A rooster was crowing in the city. Then I thought about Peter. Then I asked myself the question, “Have you denied your Lord at any time this week?”

The man that invited me to go on the hog hunt is named “Dink.” I’ve never known a “Dink” before and never got around to asking him how he got such an unusual name. Later in the week my secretary called to tell me I had a message from someone named “Dink.”

“I know who that is,” I said. Since I had put his phone number in my cell phone, I called him.

“Nope,” he said, “It wasn’t me that called.”

“I must have misunderstood the message. Sorry to have bothered you,” I said.

When I returned to my office, I discovered the message was from another man named “Dink.” How ironic — two “Dinks” in one week. It occurred to me that it’s so easy to jump to conclusions, which can lead to embarrassing situations.

As I prepare for my trip to Liberia, I think back to 10 years ago to my first journey to that country. I preached at Second Providence Baptist Church on my first Sunday there. Following the service I sat in Rev. Menjay’s small office. He shared a bottle of Orange Fanta with me, a Coca-Cola product that’s bottled in Liberia. I hadn’t had one of those in years. We enjoyed our drink and conversation as we waited for our ride.

A little later, a very tall, well-dressed Liberian arrived. When I saw him I had the distinct feeling that I knew him; but what’s the chance of meeting someone in Liberia that you know? The young Liberian took me to his modest home where his wife had prepared the best meal I ate during my stay in their country. As I ate I noticed a drawing of a chapel on the wall. It was the only framed picture on their wall.

“That looks a lot like the steeple of the chapel at Southern Seminary,” I said as I enjoyed my meal.

“It is,” said Lincoln. “That’s where I graduated from seminary.”

At just about the same time, it occurred to both us that we knew one another from our years at school in Louisville, Ky.

This reminds me of the biblical story of the men Jesus joined on the road to Emmaus following his resurrection. The men were returning from Jerusalem after witnessing the events of the crucifixion. They had also talked to the women who had gone down to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body but found the tomb empty and his body missing. They told the men of seeing a vision of angels who said he was alive.

They continued to walk with Jesus and talk with him until they reached Emmaus. They convinced him to have the evening meal with them.

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him. ...” Luke 24:30-31a (NIV)

I’m convinced that if we look hard enough, we can recognize Jesus in some of the most common things we do in life each day. The Bible does teach that Jesus can be revealed to us through a vision of angels. However, if you wait for one, you are likely to be waiting a very long time. Jesus is present in the ordinary. Jesus can use the ordinary to help us focus on what’s important for the day. Whether it’s a missed opportunity to bring food home from a hunt, the crow of a rooster, a man’s unique name, or the breaking of bread at the dinner table, Jesus is present and has something to teach us if we open our eyes and our ears and our hearts.

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:23 (NIV)

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