I have several close friends who pastor churches much like the one I pastor. We all love what we do and contribute an incredible amount of time, energy, and passion into it. One of the major aspects of pastoring is what is called “preaching”. Preaching, at least in the way my friends and I understand it and describe it simply means that we proclaim what the Bible says to the church when they gather together. To each of us, this is a huge responsibility and an awe-inspiring task because we are telling people what God is saying and we are ultimately responsible to God for how we handle His Word! Indeed, preaching the Word of God is a weighty thing.
Because of the weightiness of it, each of us want to do the best we can with the content of the sermon as well as the delivery, so we pour all we have into it every time we preach. If you approach preaching the way we do, it takes a lot out of you. It’s been said that preaching a 30 minute sermon as it should be equates to working an 8 hour physical job. Now I’m not sure if that’s entirely true, but I’ve done both and by in large that’s been my experience. So when you couple the importance of preaching with the mental and physical aspect of it, the final result can make for some high powered Sunday night and Monday morning preacher talk!
Case in point… every Sunday evening or Monday morning my preacher friends and I take to Facebook Messenger and discuss how our preaching went. We discuss whether or not our sermon content was true to the text; if our delivery was suitable, etc… Recently it seems we all, at least in our estimation, “failed miserably!” Normally there’s a couple of us that seemed to do at least “ok”, but that particular Sunday appeared to have been an across the board disaster! Some of the words and/or phrases we used to describe our sermons were, “I laid an egg…”; “I preached a clunker…”; “It was a real dud…”; “a downright debacle”; and even, “A deluge of garbage!” One of my friends even threatened to do what I have thought about doing several times in the past, “I’m calling all my church members and apologizing for that sermon!” It seemed like the loathing of ourselves and our sermons went on for hours. Maybe it was a case of “misery loves company”; regardless, it was a genuine loser fest for sure!
In one sense, we all felt as if we had let our people down, but more so the very One who had assigned us to the task of preaching, God Himself. We commiserated with each other for longer than we should have, then we moved on, looking forward to an opportunity to “redeem” ourselves the next Sunday. It was at that point of our pity party that one of my preacher friends said something that we all knew, but were too busy wallowing in our ineptitude to realize, “I’m thankful that our God is a God that redeems messes.” It was a sobering moment and a magnificent reminder as well. It reminded me that God doesn’t need me! On the other hand, He has chosen me for the task of preaching and privileged me to partake in His mission of redemption. He will accomplish His will with or without me, but He has highly blessed me in giving me the privilege of proclaiming the “unsearchable riches of Christ” through preaching. It’s certainly not because of my ability, but in spite of my inability. That’s a wonderful truth in any task we attempt for God!
The apostle Paul put it this way in his letter to the Corinthian church, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, (4) and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, (5) so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, ESV).
So there you have it; “God redeems our messes” and uses our inabilities and even our flaws for His glory! So the next time you attempt to serve God but fail because of your inabilities, learn from it, endeavor in the power of the Holy Spirit to improve, and leave it to God. He will indeed redeem our messes and make diamonds out of coal.
1 Corinthians 10:31