I have worked all week on my message for today, just like every week I’m up to speak. It wasn’t a difficult message. We have been mirroring our children’s ministry all summer, so the passage was already laid out for me. Today’s story was the resurrection; a message I’ve preached many times before. I could probably tell you most aspects of the story without my Bible in hand. The challenge is to bring freshness to a story most people think they already know. I decided to go simple; realizing that because of the newness of our church that there are many who aren’t familiar with the story.
I put together a scripted, verse-by-verse account from Luke 23. Yesterday I did my final edit. What normally takes me 3 or 4 hours on Saturday to edit my Sunday message took only about an hour. I left frustrated with myself thinking it was a horrible message, but frankly I didn’t know what else to do with it at that point. I went out to eat with friends last night complaining to the guy who is also in the ministry that I didn’t want to do this message. It just wasn’t that good. I woke up at 4 AM this morning ready to scrap the whole thing and start over, because I didn’t feel it had anything to offer people. I made a few changes, but really walked into church thinking this would be the worst message I’ve ever done at Grace. It’s still summer, I thought, maybe I wouldn’t scare too many people off and we could rebuild next week. I even shed a few tears of frustration before I went on stage.
Within five minutes of beginning today I knew I was no longer in control. I’m not saying I had a great message; it may have still truly stunk, but I left knowing God used it in someone’s life today. That’s a humbling, incredible, wonderful feeling.
It reminds me of a story told years ago about a young pastor fresh out of seminary who showed up to preach his first sermon at his first church. He was so confident, but his message simply bombed and he knew it. He walked off the stage deflated. A senior deacon in the church gave him some great advice, “If you had went up on stage the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.”
That’s a good principle for me to remember every week.
Thanks God for allowing me to work for you and thank you for humbling me today!