My first time. April 14th, 2013. I had the privilege to bring a message to the dear souls at Greenfield Senior Living center. Amy and I arrived early. Who wants to be late to their first chance to preach the word of God? Or any chance for that matter? Thankfully some brothers and sisters from church were there already. It was reassuring to enter this environment with familiar faces already smiling at you. My heart was already pounding. I had been nervous all day, actually for the better part of a week. I was nervous to the point of not eating. In fact as I write this, and remember how I felt, my breathing unconsciously picked up pace, and my stomach started to feel a bit queasy. I’m not prone to nervousness, but this, this was enough to give me an ulcer if it lasted too long.
For years I have wondered what it would be like to preach. Thought long and hard about it. Dreamed about it. What would I say? Would I be any good at it? Would my message be appreciated? Would I be faithful to the text and to God? We sang some hymns and eventually, it was my turn. I stood up and began to read from my manuscript.
I read directly from what I had written. I was too nervous to improvise and go from memory. I had to anchor my mind to something concrete or it would surely float away. I know on one hand that the lack of eye contact and the tone of voice I used hurt my ability to connect with people. I also know the power is not in me, though my nervousness illustrated just how uncomfortable I was in being completely dependent. My voice went dry a few times, and thankfully my wife brought me some water. I started to sweat a little. I eventually finished. I don’t know how long I went, but it wasn’t overly long. Mercilessly I finished and God kept me from succumbing to nervousness. I did not lose my place. I finished.
Now, in reading this you might think; “What a horrible time he had! Why would you willingly do that?!” Yet, I cannot wait to do it again. The call of God outweighs the fear in me. I have a burning in my soul to share the riches of His grace with any who would hear. I will preach again, Lord willing, and again.. and again.
I was blessed to be given the opportunity to preach by my Pastor. (Thank your my friend!) I was blessed to have two Ministers of the Gospel there that night to give me feedback. They were both generous and affirming. Kinder than I could ask for, and generous in their support.
In the hours after this incident I found myself profoundly relieved to have done it. The first hurdle has been crossed. Some of the nervousness is gone, but not all. But the call is still there. I think now I can partly understand Charles Spurgeon where he said:
I always say to young fellows who consult me about the ministry, “Don’t be a minister if you can help it,” because if the man can help it, God never called him. But if he cannot help it, and he must preach or die, then he is the man.
I feel as though I cannot help it. There is a fire kindled years ago that I tried to snuff, but God would not let me alone. It burns, and now it burns yet brighter.