Pastors often get caught up in a cycle of struggle. We feel like people’s eternal destiny is in our hands (instead of in the hands of God) and therefore we need to have our “A” game every day. We need to make sure our sermon is scintillating and memorable, our counsel is godly and accessible, and our personal example is top-notch.
Life, though, is not always so simple. No one is at the top of their profession continually. Shepherds have off days too. Those are the days that we need to rest in the truth that it is God who is at work in us and among us to grow His people. All of my hard work is nothing if God is not behind it; likewise, if He is behind it no amount of sophomoric bungling on my part can thwart His desire for His people. There are days that I thank God for that truth and many days that I test the limits of His patience with me in it. 🙂
I had a “did that really happen?” moment this weekend that taught this truth to me again. Without going into the gory details, suffice it to say that in the wee hours of Sunday I got up to go to the bathroom and ended up falling over head-first and cracking my noodle on the bathroom floor. No there wasn’t anything in my way…I stood up, lost my balance, and the next thing I knew I had done an inverted 3 1/2 pike into the tile. (Let’s just say that I need to work on my dismount and leave it at that)
I lay there asking myself “did that really happen?” Then the pain in my head told me that, yes, this had happened. I bit my tongue really hard in the process, too. I blame it on my wife not being home (she was helping a family have a baby…not her fault!).
So I got to church on Sunday with a distinct lack of sleep (it kept me up from 2:30-3:30), a knot on my head with accompanying headache and a hurting tongue. This is not a recipe for a pastoral gem of a day! I preached from Luke 8:4-21 in service, muddling past my owies and happy to go home and take a nap after church.
Of course, my worst seems to ALWAYS bring out Christ’s best. I got emails, facebook messages, notes, and calls about how the parables of the soils and lamp in Luke 8 had challenged people to look at their lives and make changes. Naturally it is when my prep time was limited by VBS and my delivery by my lack of balance that God chooses to change lives in big ways.
It just goes to show to me and all my preaching buddies…gentlemen, it ain’t about us. I agree wholeheartedly with Walt Kaiser’s statement in Toward an Exegetical Theology: “It is our pleasant duty to unleash the Word of God in all its authority and power for those who wait to be fed with bread from heaven.” It is His power and authority we wait for, not our own.
Thank Him that unleashing the Word of God can be done with a headache and a hurting tongue! And with that realization, I can now see God even in the bruised forehead I am nursing this week.