Today, I was thinking about how blessed I am to be a part of this church family. People in this church regularly communicate to me their appreciation and love in many different ways. God has blessed me by allowing me to participate in this ministry of preaching. This is not about me, my words, my being in front of people, etc. I believe that preaching is about helping a group of people come to treasure God. I am not a minister because I am a better person than most, or because I like being in church buildings, or because I like public speaking. I really believe that God wants me to do this at this point in my life.
I often feel quite overwhelmed. I try to stay conscious of my sins, my fears, and my inconsistencies. There are times when I feel alone and "in the wilderness." There are other times when I feel so encouraged by friends and fellow Christians. Sometimes the way I feel seems to mirror life as it is. At other times it doesn’t. I don’t know how to always explain such feelings. I just know that they are there or they aren’t.
In the last few weeks, I have visited with several undergraduates who have told me that they just don’t know what to do with their lives (By the way, college studentsâ€”be sure to check out this website–Boundless). Can I ever relate to that! If you had known me when I was growing up, I would be one of the last people who you would pick to one day preach. I had absolutely no sense of direction in my life during my high school and even during most of my college years. I was hesitant and pretty reserved. Both of my daughters are far more mature than I was at their age. Can you believe that a guy like me would stand in front of people and talk to them about their lives? In some respects it seems that such a work must take a lot of gall. In other respects, it reminds me of my own desperate need for God.
Yet, God saw fit to use me in this ministry. I have a deep passion to see men and women give themselves to the Lord and be used to draw others to him. We are a sin-mess! And–all around us, we are witnessing sin destroy families, break hearts, and crush the dreams of people.
So often churches get all wrapped up in everything but what really counts–God and people. Let me tell you about the kind of people who I see on a Sunday morning.
1. The teenager who feels very much alone and confused. Dad and mom are physically around but have no idea about his world.
2. The divorced mother of two children who is doing good just to be there. She wonders how much longer she can make ends me. She works very hard but day care and expenses are eating up her paycheck.
3. The woman who has an ongoing bout with depression. Someone saw her crying in an assembly and asked her if she was ok. She just nodded her head "yes," not knowing where to begin the conversation.
4. The lonely young mother who stays at home with her children. Her husband is consumed by his career and seems to take no real interest in what is happening at home.
5. The man who sits in an assembly after having filed for bankruptcy that week. He feels like he has failed his family.
6. The widow who is having trouble adjusting to life after the death of her husband. Married for several decades, she is not sure how to move on from here. It seems like some of the couples (their friends) are no longer including her in activities that she and her husband used do with them.
All of that is quite overwhelming to me! Yet, I think that when we are focused on loving God and treasuring him and caring about people, we are where God wants us to be.