In a little town in west Texas, it was a long-held custom to have an old-fashioned tent revival meeting each summer. On a sweltering west Texas day, the residents would heave up a great circus tent and bring in several stem-winder evangelists, who would put on a five-day “preach-off” aimed at winning souls. People would come by the hundreds from the outlying areas to hear this gospel phenomenon.

            Each summer, like clockwork, the town drunk would show up for the services. And at every service, old Harry would become moved by the preacher’s sermon. At the altar call, he would come running down the middle aisle, take his place at the altar, raise his hands, and shout, “Fill me, Lord! Fill me with your Spirit!” For a while afterward, Harry would be different. He walked a little taller, he sobered up, and he became a respectable citizen. But with time, Harry would return to his old ways — until the next summer. This happened every year, until the citizens of that little town knew exactly what was going to happen.

            One summer, the revival service came back as usual. Again, the great tent went up. Again, the great preachers held forth. And on the first night of that revival, sure enough, down came Harry to the altar. Once again, he lifted hands on high and shouted at the top of his lungs, “Lord, fill me! Fill me with your Spirit!” There was a great hush in the tent, and then a little voice from somewhere in the rear of the assembly said, “Don’t bother, Lord … he leaks!”

            When I first heard that old story, my response was, “Don’t we all?” I must admit that Harry’s problem is my problem too: I leak. I know that there have been times in my life when my soul and spirit have been filled to the brim — times when I have been filled with the best of intentions, the maximum of inspiration, times when I thought I could do anything. But I also know myself well enough to see that, without the constant “topping up” of worship, prayer and daily spiritual discipline, my levels go down all too quickly.

            I suppose that’s one of the best indications I know for why I need to pay attention to the age-old gift of regular worship. As a believer in God, I have a good case of S.A.D.D. — Spiritual Attention Deficit Disorder. But somehow, when I am with the spiritual family I love, God gets my attention again. So I’ll be back this Sunday. You too?


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