Recently I missed church two weeks in a row, once for snow, once for illness. For perhaps a number of reasons—the illness, the absence, the fact that my husband was out of town for an extended period of time—I began to feel restless and out of sorts, maybe a little cabin feverish. I didn’t go out of my home much, for lack of energy and dreary weather. I missed portions of my two part-time jobs. I had to cancel out on several events that usually give me energy and equilibrium.
The enemy crept in.
The restlessness became a voice of self-doubt and confusion. What business do you have thinking you can be a pastor? Of course this sermon is difficult to prepare; you have nothing to say and no right to say it. Do you really think it was God telling you to go to seminary, or did you just dream that up on your own? You know, don’t you, that you have no future in ministry?
Darrel came home and my health returned and the snow went away (although not the dreary weather) and the sermon got prepared, albeit with little time to spare and without real confidence. I went to church and I preached. And the whole experience—the gathering with our little faith community, the greeting of visitors and the eating of donut holes, the working with the worship team and the Scripture readers, the preaching, the praying, the offering, the benediction—brought a kind of refreshment of my calling and purpose, an affirmation that at least for today I am in the right place, doing what I am called to do. I am grateful for this small grace.
Today I read Psalm 40. I think most of us, when we read this Psalm, think of it in terms of sin—David’s or our own—all that mud and mire and slimy pit language. We receive forgiveness and that’s a great thing. But today I read it differently. I read it in terms of purpose, specifically the preacher’s purpose, the need and call for what we know of God to spill out of us. God’s living, active word spoke to me in my current need and hope.
And so I have arranged excerpts from Psalm 40 as a meditation for preachers. Perhaps God will speak to you through it also.
A Meditation for Preachers: Adapted from Psalm 40 (NIV)
Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare. But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my God; do not delay.
Then I said, “Here I am! I have come! I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help. I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness from the great assembly.
You put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to you our God. Many will see and fear you, Lord, and put their trust in you. Blessed is the one who trusts in you!
May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”