(This, my first ever ‘guest post’, comes from a Northern Pastor known to me.)
It is Sunday evening, and the Sabbath is almost over. Once more it has been – I am told – ‘a good day’. There were good numbers at both services. I preached at both and managed not to lose my way in either. I think I explained the texts fairly, and applied them with some warmth and passion. We sang heartily to the praise of God. We know that God was with us. It was a good day. And now I am home; no students called this evening, no pastoral problems need my attention. It’s a warm home, a loving wife, a gracious God.
And yet. Yet my heart aches. I am but a breath, now, from retirement. Only yesterday (it seems) I was a new minister; now, I’m the oldest man in our fraternal. And I have done so little.
Have I been faithful? Yes, I believe so. I have preached everything I believe, popular or not. I have refused to ride hobby-horses – as far as I know. I have pressed the claims of God and of Christ and his gospel, both in congregations and to individuals. There is much where I have failed. I have not studied enough. I have certainly not prayed as I should have and am called to do. But I have studied, and I have prayed, and I have preached. God has blessed; we have seen many who are ‘hopefully converted’, many who go on with the Lord, many who serve him in different ways and even in different countries.
But tonight, like most Sundays, as I drink my tea and warm my feet a heaviness descends upon me, a secret silent sadness. We have not known the Spirit’s descent in power! How many have heard me again, and thanked me again, and gone home unsaved again? How many ‘almost persuaded’ there are! How many ungodly professors have gathered again! (Just once. Most of them only come once). How little difference has been made!
I believe in preaching. I believe I am called to preach. I am honoured to be loved and respected so much more than I deserve. But – oh, Lord! How long?
(Thanks to Stephen Baird for the photo, Arizona Lights)