Pastors use a number of different methods for sermon delivery. Some do notes. Others preach extemporaneously. Myself, I have always done my sermons manuscript style. I like to hope that my sermon prep time is a collaborative effort between myself and the Spirit with primarily the Spirit providing the thoughts and I write them down. I have always prepared messages with an eye on the axiom “Never bore people with the Word of God”. Generally, when I realize that my message is a verbal tranquilizer it’s because it’s too much of me and not enough of the Spirit.
So manuscripts are my thing. Twenty-seven years ago I got my hands on a copy of WordPerfect 5.1 and that cemented the relationship.
A while back I was doing the message for the Sunday evening service. I stepped into the pulpit, flipped open my folder, and looked down at – nothingness. The folder was empty! Immediately I could see in my mind’s eye my sermons notes sitting neatly stacked on my desk at home. A bit of panic started.
I thought of the words of the old poem “Just Preach On”,
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
So I said an arrow prayer, Nehemiah style, and I preached the message God had given me. My sweet wife later told me that, with the exception of the shocked look on my face when I opened the folder, she couldn’t tell the difference. I didn’t press on that comment, I just took it as a good thing.
There are verses that come to mind when I think of that evening. Texts like 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
However, the one that really rests on my heart is the simple promise of Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
Being in service to God will always bring unexpected challenges, twists, and turns. We can let these wear us down or see them as the glorious variety that is such a part of our calling. Rest assured though that through it all God will be faithful to His promise. He will never leave you nor forsake you.