Another name that struck me was Myron Wackler. Born on May 9, 1924, he was the oldest of 10 children born to Edmund and Frances Wackler of Howard Lake, Minn. He was a German-speaking farm boy who longed for education and realized early on that his life’s work was first and foremost to serve his Lord. I remember him as a larger than life preacher from Columbia Falls and Whitefish Montana who enchanted me with his preaching at a Pastors Conference at Flat Head Lake. He was also a pretty good harmonica player. He was educated at Concordia College in Springfield. He spent more than 50 years preaching the gospel as a Lutheran minister in Illinois and Montana, including more than 25 years at Peace Lutheran Church in Thomasboro, Illinois.
He struck me because I remember thinking how a well crafted sermon can change your entire outlook on life and the world and your place in it. I am ashamed to say this, but I would bet that most people feel the same way, and that is we sit down to receive a sermon expecting to be bored. Pastor Wacklers sermon grabbed me immediately and never let me go. The text was Jesus words in John 16;33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Luther said about this passage, “It indeed is not false, this I know for sure, that Christ, the Son of God, has overcome the world. Why, then, do we fear the world as if it were a victorious conqueror? A person really ought to fetch such a passage on his knees from Rome or Jerusalem; however, because we have so many such [passages], we despise them. But that is not good.”
Wackler said, “Where was it ever written that life, especially our life in Christ,would be a bolster like lying on a down comforter at the end of a long day of lying in the warm water at the lake? Who ever said that we would never fall and get hurt, or get knocked down by something or somebody and need help getting up? Who said that falling for us would be like dropping into a big bowl of whipped cream, with the strawberry on top ripened to our exact liking? Did anyone ever tell you that there would be no rough times, rough patches, rough roads, or rough enemies? Did someone, somehow convince you that life would be smooth and slippery like an earth worm slithering in warm garden mud? I know Jesus never did.
Jesus said we have enemies like the world and the flesh and the devil. He told us that we would be out there like sheep among the wolves. He said that we had to carry a cross. He said that we would have tribulation, affliction. Jesus used a great word. A word that means pressure, like that on your chest when your heart is about to burst. Something that rubs like those hunting boots that you bought too small after tracking an elk high in the mountains for hours. It means a narrow place where you are caught and can’t go back or sideways or forward. It means the panicky feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you are out of options. Jesus took that affliction for us. Stricken and smitten and afflicted. The weight of sins, yours and mine and everyone else’s pressed him and broke His heart. His whole life He felt the rub and the chafe of mankind’s cockeyed view of God. The full image of God’s love and He is despised and rejected by the very people that He was sent to save. He knew what it was to be stuck in the tight spot between God’s justice and grace, between the will of the Father and the hardness of human hearts and it crushed Him. And because these things were taken on by Him; because it was the will of the Father to crush Him for you; He has overcome the world. And so will you. You will not come out of this world unscathed. When you run the race as Paul said we must, you look pretty tough at the end of it all. But at the end of it all because of Jesus, there is glory.”