Our senior pastor called me. He was in hospital in pain. He needed to take a time of rest and recovery. And he needed me to take a week of Sunday teaching during his absence. And we laughed together because God had already planned for this.
A few weeks before, we’d been chatting about our church’s study in Luke and 1 Corinthians. In trying to honor our pastor’s request for me to teach more regularly, I had read forward in Luke to see if the Holy Spirit would highlight something for me to share. Having just spoken two weeks in a row from Luke 2 about Simeon and Anna, I was sure I could be off the hook for a couple of months. I was also secretly hoping to be off the hook for good. It’s a much simpler life for me to not be preaching. Problem is, there is something inside me that compels me to speak God’s Word. And when I don’t, I so relate to Jeremiah’s words: “But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones ; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it.” (Jeremiah 20:9 NASB)
So I read forward in Luke with the hope of not hearing God, and with the hope of hearing Him. And the hope of it being chapters upon chapters ahead, and with the hope of it being not at all. Yes, I am a complicated human. Or, I like to complicate things. Or, this is what we are: utterly human, yet with a deposit of eternity in our hearts. And there’s a wrestle in us.
Luke 4. I’m not kidding. Just two chapters on. Luke 4 grabbed my heart. Ridiculous. It must be me being silly and not actually God speaking. What an ego I have. To think that our church family could tolerate listening to me yammer again so soon. Sigh. To think that God would even want to use me to speak for Him at all. For I am so human and so immature and so… female. (But that’s a whole other discussion. Saving that one for another day.)
Anyway, I told our pastor about Luke 4 because I couldn’t be sure it wasn’t God speaking. And I am deeply motivated to honor and obey Yahweh. And I see from the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) that being afraid of using what He’s entrusted us is a bad choice. And so I am trying to step out more, and trust that He’ll close doors when I’m getting it wrong. The Holy Spirit is our amazing guide. And it’s His Kingdom that He is building. And Revelation 3:7 shows us He is “who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens.”
“You’re right, it is too soon.” our pastor said. “I won’t have you preach again for a couple of months. Read further on.”
Sounded good to me. So I moved on from Luke 4. Except I couldn’t. The words of Luke 4 were growing roots into my heart. So I camped there. In those Words. Researching and praying and pondering and letting the Holy Spirit teach me. And a sermon formed. A sermon that would not be spoken to anyone by my own heart. And I was happy.
Then the phone rang. And our pastor and I laughed in comfort. God had already provided for our pastor’s absence. He had gone before our understanding and had provided beautifully. Well, He is beautiful and His provision is beautiful. I take no credit for any beauty at all.
This sermon is a deeply special one for me. A sermon that was for my own heart. And seemingly for some other hearts too.
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I am part of our church’s preaching team. Here’s why.