Preparing for messages has tended to be a stressful ordeal for me. How can I ensure that whatever I say is accurate, and addresses the nuances in the passage? How can I speak in a way that accurately conveys what I really want to convey? How do I deal with addressing people who are in different life stages, and facing different things?
It doesn't help that for some reason or other, my topics have tended to be about things related to 'works'. Or maybe it's a reflection of how I always felt the need to try to help people to understand the nuance between faith and works (it's easy and yet dangerous to fall to either extreme). It is a difficult topic to tackle.
Recently though, it has become clearer and clearer to me that my job is not to try to dissect every passage and highlight all the details and intricacies. That's reserved for Bible study. I'm not supposed to be trying to do a live Bible study monologue. My job is to proclaim Christ. What gets me excited about Jesus. What burns within my heart. Sure, as a speaker I have to prepare by doing my own study, but I'm not supposed to just take the results of my study and present it.
That has been freeing for me. I think back to what are the messages, the moments in my walk with God that impact me the most. Most of them have nothing to do with Bible knowledge, they mainly instead have to do with the moment where head knowledge which I already have was translated into heart knowledge. When the things I 'know' were internalised and transformed the way I live.
So as a speaker, it is my role to give others this opportunity. I can't force it, but what I can do is to provide the environment for it and let the Holy Spirit do His thing.
So I'm spending lots of time on this particular message too, but unlike the past times where preparation was filled with agony and dread, I'm really excited about this. Sometimes in the past I would feel that I spent so much time trying to convey something in the Bible study method and then it just flies over the heads of everyone. And I would feel a little frustrated, wondering what's the point of doing all this. Why did I spent hours and days screwing around with my brain reading commentaries, looking at different versions, interpretations, Greek and so on, and come Saturday I speak and it doesn't matter.
I don't know how this one will turn out, Maybe it still will fly over the heads of everyone. Except this time I'm sharing about something I'm really passionate about. Something which even as I write I feel excited and can't wait to share. I get to proclaim Christ. You know what, if you think about it, I get to have everyone's undivided attention for an extended period of time for me to declare the mystery that is Christ in me, the hope of glory.
And that is a simply amazing privilege.