They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” – Luke 24:32
This past week, I was sick . . . kind of painfully sick. I spent probably the least amount of time I have ever spent with the Lord in quite a while. If I did spend time, it was kind of mechanical and even cold feeling. There was no real sense of His presence. Late in the week, I got a call from one of my pastor friends asking if I would fill in. I immediately told him that I’d be glad to preach on Sunday morning.
As soon as I got home, I still felt miserable. I tried to spend some time with God, but just still wasn’t feeling it. I did begin to pray and ask, “Lord, would you still use me Sunday? I know You have a word.” I woke up in the middle of Friday night and God basically downloaded into my mind what I would preach. I got up just to take some quick notes in case I forgot after going back to sleep. I had no time to look at them Saturday . . . plus, I was still sick.
Sunday morning comes and I print out the most pitiful set of notes I’ve ever used. I’m about to panic when I just decide to go walk for a bit. I listen to where I left off on my YouVersion Bible App. I’m finishing up the book of Luke and I hear the verse that I am using this morning. That is all I ask of the Lord, “Lord, when I preach and talk about You and the Word this morning . . . will You let our hearts burn?”
I return home and we do our normal scramble to get everyone ready and out the door on time. I’m not preaching every week, so I begin to wonder if God will really come through for me again. I wonder if I will just stumble and fumble through my sermon. I decide that I don’t really care, He can do with me whatever He wants . . . I will just open my spirit to Him.
I have to say, it was one of the sweetest, sweetest senses of His presence I’ve had in a long, long time. I might be saying that because that week up to that point was probably the weakest sense of His presence I’ve had in a long time. But here is the thing . . . He answered my prayer. When I began to talk about Him and the things He has done in my life, my spirit just burned. I cried at a story I’ve told 100 times and never cried before. In fact, I can only remember crying 2 other times in my life while I was preaching. At the end, some people just hung around, not wanting that sense of presence to leave. I continued to have conversations with individuals and couples, and our spirits continued to burn.
The thing that strikes me the most this morning about all this is how little I deserved for Him to use me like that. There is still some religious thing in me that thinks I must study the Bible for hours every day, pray a ton, fast for a period of time, take copious notes, and earn the right to have His Presence fill the place when I preach. Man is He teaching me otherwise. There is nothing on this planet like truly opening myself to Him and allowing Him to speak. Time and time again He proves Himself more than faithful.
Lord, thank You for continuing to use me. Thank You for continuing to give me opportunities to share Your word. Not one time have I ever asked to preach somewhere. I’ve only asked You to open doors for me. To this day, I don’t see how You do it. Help me to understand that You love me and are for me. Help me to get that even if I did every religious activity possible for 168 hours one week, You would be no more proud of me than You are right now. You continue to give Yourself away to me. I really want to learn to give myself to You. Man oh man, there is and never will be another like You. Amen.