It's a love-hate relationship I've had for more than forty years. Preaching. Proclaiming God's Word. Offering Christ. It's what I've lived for, what I've agonized over, what has frightened and intimidated me more than anything else I've ever faced. If it were only giving a speech, I'd be fine, but it's more than that; it's handling the Word of life, and it is a formidable task. When I taught our district's lay preaching course, I would tell the students that if they ever lost the "butterflies in the stomach," they should quit preaching.
For two years now, with the exception of the few times I've filled in for pastor Joe and this past ten days when I preached every night in Cuba, I've been free from the feeling of dread that would descend upon me every Saturday night, the realization that I am not up to the task before me, the certainty that I am unworthy of the privilege and honor of standing before God's people, Bible in hand. Tonight as the day is winding down, I feel sick to my stomach, sure that I haven't studied enough, prayed enough, pondered enough. With St. Paul, I say, "Who is sufficient for these things? Our sufficiency is in Christ alone."
If anything good and lasting is to come from what I've prepared, it will be Christ alone. If not, it will have been me. I don't have the wisdom to handle the subject matter of unanswered prayer. I am grateful for the opportunity to preach even though it scares me immensely, literally setting my body tingling with fearful anticipation. It's Saturday night. Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. Tomorrow afternoon, my mind will rest, knowing that Monday morning I will not have to gear up once more for next Sunday. For that too, I am grateful.