My pastor friends and I joke about the “death march” following Sunday services. Now most of you will not understand this affliction. Many, if not most of us Sunday speakers, can feel the vortex of doom sucking the very life out of our being as we take that lonely ride home.
I’ve come to recognize this shadowy heaviness as a blessing in some ways. I am human. I get depleted of adrenalin, fervor, and passion all too quickly. The body is reacting…it is tired. The soul is reacting…it is under attack. The spirit is waning…untouchable I am not.
And then, for some reason if criticism comes, it will most likely find its expression on Sunday, or Monday; the two days that are already sensitive from having expended so much of one’s self. It is our burden to bear, we preachers of the Gospel and lovers of the church.
And yet, this very pain is a sermon in itself, to one’s self. “You are not God. Your weakness, is testimony to the unattainable goal of describing the indescribable. Your self-pity is testimony to the need of your own soul, for the God of which you have tried to describe. You are human. And as such are qualified for the grace, mercy, love and affection of the indescribable God you feel like you failed to describe adequately to others.”
I have started reciting an old prayer from Anselm, that father of orthodoxy who lived around 1100 AD, on Sunday afternoons:
“Hope of my heart, strength of my soul, help of my weakness, by your powerful kindness complete what in my powerless weakness I attempt. My life, the end to which I strive, although I have not yet attained to love you as I ought, still let my desire for you be as great as my love ought to be.”
Dear preacher friends, as much as it feels like it, God has not abandoned you, and most likely, you didn’t suck as bad as you thought. But even if you did…you stood up there, and gave your heart, passion, and life as an offering for the grace of God to use in declaring to the world his great love. Be not ashamed…you will live to preach another day!