Preaching = hassle
Half-way through Friday I still had no real idea what I was going to preach on Sunday. I knew what piece of the Bible I was to focus on (Galatians 4) as that was foreordained but I couldn't for the life of me work out what to say. In case you're wondering, it's rubbish when that happens.
I prayed a lot, trying to keep my desperation faith-filled. There was plenty of stuff in the passage but that wasn't really helping. The thing with preaching is that it is not merely communicating some information, it's sharing a part of yourself. I use the word 'impartation' - it's like being set on fire by God and then passing that flame on to others. On Friday I felt like a damp squib.
I had read lots of commentaries. These are guides to help you understand what the Bible is saying. They are often really helpful but if you're not careful you end up thinking what they have taught rather than having your own thoughts educated by their work. I could have followed the perfectly correct lines of reasoning they suggested but it just didn't feel right. I've learnt enough about those kind of feelings to realise that there's no point fighting them.
Finally, I picked up a book I'd bought recently. It has the snappy title Adopted into God's family: exploring a Pauline metaphor. I flicked through the contents and there was chapter after chapter about Galatians 4! I started reading. By the end of work hours on Friday I felt hopeful but another speaking engagement and end-of-week tiredness prevented further work from being done that night. And then on Saturday Debbie arrived from Scotland for a 36-hour visit.
We love just hanging out so my working whilst she sat next to me wasn't exactly a disaster but my head struggled to cope with having two legitimate claimants of its attention. A possible trip to the cinema with friends in the evening drifted away. I finally finished it on Sunday morning, God is good.
All of which makes the facts that the audio recording failed and we discovered a virus on the memory drive which I had put the notes for growth groups on feel like minor irritations.
Would I rather not have preached? Honestly, I'm so glad I did. Talking about God's adoption of those who put their trust in Jesus is such an amazing privilege, and preaching is how I serve the church. And I do love doing it. It's just that sometimes it's really hard work. Not for nothing did God put this instruction in His Word: "And let us not grow weary of doing good" (Galatians 6:9)