Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tired but happy

Each Sunday I preach three sermons, a feature that is not rare in my denomination because many of my colleagues also preach the same number every Sunday, with some also preaching in two different languages. I mention this figure because last Sunday evening, which had been preceded by an additional sermon on Saturday evening, several individuals kindly asked if I was tired. Their question, however, raises some issues.

For many years I was a truck driver working twelve hours a day, five days a week. Regularly I was tired physically at the end of a day's work. I have been a preacher now for several years and as far as I can tell I have not been as physically tired on my busiest Sunday as I was at times during my days driving trucks. But I will admit that on most Sunday evenings, after the services are over, I am tired. Yet I am pleased that I am tired because it means that I put some effort into preaching. If I was not tired, I would have to consider how much effort I had put in to delivering my sermons.

Of course, the tiredness is not only the consequence of physical exertion. There is an emotional contribution as well. There is emotional stress caused by knowing some listeners have rejected the gospel, and such feelings contribute to tiredness. There is also the regular Satanic assaults that come in variety of ways before, during and after a sermon – they also contribute to tiredness. These aspects make a preacher's tiredness a feature of his calling.

For a variety of reasons, I expect to be tired on Sunday evenings. After all, while Sunday is the New Testament Sabbath, it is not my day of rest. I have to take another day off. But the tiredness should not be all of the story, even on Sundays – I should find a place of rest, which is usually having a chat with my wife.

There can be other places of rest as well. No doubt, such places will be different from time to time. Sometimes rest comes from meeting with Christians for fellowship on Sunday evenings (I experienced this form of rest last Sunday and it refreshed me greatly, as such meetings have done on numerous occasions); at other times it comes from reading a biography of a person who experienced the presence of Christ. The list of possible places of rest is a long one, and each person has to find the ones that help him most.

There is at least one other benefit of being tired on Sunday night. At the end, before I go to sleep, I am glad to know that I have tried to serve Christ as best as I could. I realise that he does not need my best in order to achieve his purposes (I am preaching on Jonah at present and his response proves that point), and I also know that my best is marred by sin. Still, my tiredness tells me that I have tried my best, and I am grateful that, through Christ's grace, my hardest efforts are given to his cause.

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