Last Wednesday I came down with a sinus infection that knocked me down for a few days. It was a very inconvenient time to get sick, as I was scheduled to teach at youth group on Saturday night and preach two sermons on Sunday.
This opportunity to preach, more than any other I can remember, gave me the most realistic picture of what pastoral ministry is like week-in and week-out. As one of my professors used to say, “Sunday comes every seven days.” When Sunday morning rolls around you better have something to say. I felt that pressure more this past week than ever before. Nevertheless, feeling abridged and sincerely underprepared, I lead the flock to the streams of the word of God as best I could.
God reminded me this week that the power and effectiveness of gospel ministry doesn’t reside in me: my skills, knowledge, preparation, or anything else. God’s servants are as Paul wrote, “jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Cor. 4:7). Fragile vessels though we are, God is pleased to shine the light of his grace through us.
But letting the light shine through requires some cracks. The cracking process isn’t often easy or comfortable. Yet, as Paul testified, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8).