It was spring semester of my first year of graduate studies. A friend had called and offered me a summer job of preaching at a country congregation in his absence. I had spoken on occasions at churches since high school, but had never before had the weekly responsibility of delivering a sermon and teaching a class. I agreed to the offer, and then the dreams began. Nightmares. Recurring nightmares.
What was the dream? In the nightmare, I was standing before a group of people with nothing to say. Suddenly having the responsibility of speaking regularly, it was a dream that left me with a cold sweat and wondering if I was doing the right thing.
Some of that fear went with me into full-time work. Saturday nights for a long time were tense. It didn’t matter that an outline was written and in my desk. The tension was there. Sundays and Wednesdays have a way of being relentless. No sooner are you finished with one and another one looms ahead with its deadline.
Over the years though, I have discovered something. The nightmare is true. I don’t have anything to say. I certainly don’t have anything worth saying three or four times a week. Yet, I am convinced that God does have plenty of things to say to us from His Word. The task of the preacher is to let the congregation hear the Word of God through the things he says. The task is to let scripture speak clearly.
On a trip to West Virginia, I had the chance to visit Alexander Campbell’s home. Campbell was an outstanding 19th century Restoration Movement leader. I stood inside the study that he had built away from his house. It’s a small hexagonal shaped building with a later addition that added some space and a fireplace. Originally, the only windows in the study were in a small cupola on the top. Campbell considered it a metaphor for his work, “light comes from above.”
God is the source of revelation and wisdom. The preacher in his study is attempting to clearly understand God’s message, so that it can be shared with others. God is the one with something to say—a message worth our time and attention.
“Light from above” – what a wonderful motto!
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV)
Source of the photo: www.therestorationmovement.com/lightfromabove.htm