Being a pastor was never what you’d call a dream of mine. Preaching was the thing that intimidated me most. It wasn’t getting up in front of people, I’d been doing that my whole life, it was the thought of having something worthwhile to say every week for the next six months and beyond. But I’ve discovered that if I depend on God he is always faithful in providing. So you’d think that after almost 16 years of preaching I’d have this figured out, but this week I had to learn that lesson all over again.
I’ve been preaching through the book of Isaiah and this week we came to chapter 54 which is very allegorical. I read and re-read and cross referenced and all the stuff I normally do but was really struggling to understand what God was saying, both in the big picture and in application to us. So what are we all taught to do when we come up against a problem? Try harder! So I worked and chewed on it till I had squeezed out a lesson and what that meant for us. But honestly, it felt forced. It was Biblically sound, but it had no life in it.
Then Sunday morning as part of my everyday focus time with God I read this in My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers: “Do we really know anything about the indwelling of the risen life of Jesus? The evidence that we do is that His Word is becoming understandable to us . . . (but) our own unyielding and headstrong opinions will effectively prevent God from revealing anything to us.” In other words God’s spirit, who is literally living in everyone who is a Jesus follower, will guide us through the Bible, teaching us both to understand what is written and how it applies to our individual and collective situations. The problem is our own “unyielding and headstrong opinions” get in the way.
When I finally acknowledged and asked forgiveness for trying to understand this chapter through my own understanding and wisdom, the passage just opened up and so much insight came I wasn’t sure how I could fit it all in one sermon.
Now listen. This is not just for pastors. This relationship with God is offered to anyone who will simply admit their need of it and ask for it. It is still a process, because God won’t give you more than you can bear all at once, but he will give you all that you need.