Imagine, for a moment, what life would be like without a word. Imagine walking into a new school without a class schedule, a map, or an idea where the cafeteria is located. Imagine starting a new job when your manager didn’t explain fully the expectations of the role or how you can be successful or that on Fridays everyone wears sweatpants to the office. Imagine moving to a new city and having no one to tell you which part of town to live in, where to buy groceries, or where the closest park is. Imagine life without a word, and now imagine life without a word from God.
It’s aimless. Purposeless. Directionless. And very, very lonely.
All of the above is true for me (and you) as a human being. But I feel these things keenly as a father, too. In that sense, I’m not unlike a man who wrote to his child more than 260 years ago. Jonathan Edwards was concerned with Esther, his daughter. A young mother living far from her childhood family, Esther had fallen quite sick in 1753. Her famous father wrote to encourage her:
Unfortunately, many Christians approach next year’s big commitments for Bible reading with a little trepidation, and perhaps even some guilt. This may be the third or fourth year that they’ve said they want to do a Bible reading plan, an ambitious one that takes them through the Bible in a year, or even a plan with lighter expectations. And yet they’ve found they lapse inevitably after a few weeks or months. “This year will be different,” they say, and they get ready to start a new reading plan. They look at the different options out there (some of which I’ve described before), and settle on one that is going to help them through the year.
The pulpit is a battle station in the cosmic conflict. The preacher should not trivialize the task of proclamation by acting as though the preaching ministry is happy-clappy and pain-free. Preaching well takes gut-wrenching faith. The voice of Christ is present in the feeble but faithful words of the biblical preacher of Christ crucified. The Spirit of Christ owns biblically faithful sermons, preached by expositors who are full of faith in Christ, and love for those who listen. I heard Tim Keller say that the preacher should focus on preaching good sermons and pray for God to make them great and use them greatly. I like that because it acknowledges that there is a mysterious element in preaching that keeps us humble and utterly dependent. Not feeling good before the sermon? Often, God uses our struggles to make the sermon more potent than it would have otherwise been. To be low in spirit, but desperately clinging to gospel truth, is a far better frame for preaching than entitled arrogance, as though you have mastered the preaching moment and it has become routine to you.
The Idolatry of Ministry