It never fails . . . just before I'm about to preach, I get an extreme case of nervous butterflies in the pit of my stomach . . . the most painful anxiety headache that seems to pound with every drum beat played during praise and worship . . . the feel of cotton balls in my mouth even as I drink bottled water after bottled water . . . and I experience extreme doubt about what I'm supposed to say. Over and over in my mind I'm asking, "God are you sure this is it? God are you sure I heard you right?" Then once the sermon is over and I've resolved that I did as best I could . . . I may get a message from someone saying, "You know I been thinking all day about what you preached. It really got me to thinking."
That's what happened on Sunday. After pulling an all-nighter and part of the morning trying to get the sermon written, I learn later in the day that my sermon, "How hungry are you?" was on target. I learn that the lectionary text, Luke 9:51-62 which was planned some years ago, was just what needed to be preached on this particular Sunday. Funny how that works. It was just the text -- one that deals with the issue of discipleship -- that the people needed to hear. . . that I needed to hear. I was already pretty confident that it was a message for one of the churches, as earlier in the week, I saw signs of what John in Revelation calls a "lukewarm" congregation. I learned that if some of the dedicated few -- which are 3 or 4 could not or would not be making Bible Study, then Bible Study wouldn't happen.
Admittedly, my spirit grieved that day as I cried over whether the people were really interested in going to the next level in their Christian walk. I was thinking here was an opportunity to up the ante. . . to get a better handle on this Christianity thing . . . and they didn't have time. Other issues were more of a priority. What I had heard them speak seemed contrary to their actions. When given the opportunity to "follow Jesus" as the text says, here they were offering excuses. I knew right then I needed to tackle the issue on Sunday. But as I shared, I had no idea if it would resonate. . . no idea of the people would think me too harsh . . . no idea of what to expect.
Then later in the day after I had preached two services . . . after I was winding down and going over the coming week . . .I get an instant message from one of the congregants saying how moved she was by the message. . . so much so that she posted on her Facebook status: "I'm hungry for a mighty move of God . . . use me Lord any way you choose!"
Unbeknowest to her, God had already done so. Her worldwide posting was my confirmation that I had done as God had requested . . . that the nervous butterflies in the pit of my stomach . . . the head-pounding headache . . . and feel of cotton balls mouth . . . and extreme doubts about what I had heard . . . was not for naught.
It was just as God had ordained.
On to next Sunday.