As a Spiritual Director, my pastoral duties have more to do with listening than speaking. Occasionally, I do preach and when I do there is a certain amount of anxiety. Thanks to Toastmasters and a few tough preaching assignments, I have less fear of public speaking than I once did.
This week as I prepare to stand at the pulpit, I have noticed my anxiety has to do with the reality that sermon preparation isn’t part of my normal pastoral rhythm. It takes time to pray through a passage of Scripture, to listen to the Lord speak while faithfully studying the verses, and to craft a Holy Spirit inspired message that speaks to those who come with varying degrees of their own anxiety.
Last night I finally went to bed even though I was in the midst of making some final changes to my sermon on Psalm 111 about the Great Works of God, because I could no longer stay awake. In the morning when I sat down to finish, I found I had written this:
God provides for us in little ways all day long…we simply don’t take the time to do what we need most such as sleep.
Sleep has nothing to do with my sermon. In my sleepy state I had written what I most needed. Reflecting further, I wonder if the great work of God for me, for our non-stop culture, isn’t recognizing the need for rest and at times simply going to bed.
Wayne Muller shares this story in his book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives:
Jack was diagnosed with a painful ulcer. His doctors offered treatments
that either gave him no relief or made him uncomfortable. He decided,
literally, to sleep on it. He had a favorite cat that began, every night,
to curl up on his stomach. She would wiggle underneath the blankets
as he slept, and remain on his stomach all night long. She would
periodically get out, stretch, take some fresh air, and crawl back in.
Within two week Jack’s ulcer was completely healed. (pg. 170)
What a great work of God! What healing rhythm of rest is God inviting you and me to develop for our lives? I encourage you to take a few moments and read Psalm 111. Ultimately, may we have the courage to trust God to graciously do great works in our lives even as we rest.