the burden

This Monday and Tuesday I was in Fallbrook, CA with the other ministry leaders of my church on a retreat. This morning I woke up early and had a specific plan to pray and work on my sermon for this Sunday. I have been doing lots of study and prep prior to this point, but had yet to begin to put words to paper. And yet, I couldn’t. Though it was morning and few others were around I found my soul distracted. I prayed, but my mind was cloudy. I prayed more, but my thoughts were scattered. A little breakfast and some company, and then I found myself lying on a couch waiting for the rest of the staff to come and start our first meeting (my own personal time of preparation squandered). As I lay there, I felt tired and weak. I closed my eyes. Conversation and people around me felt like they were in a different room. I was tired and weak. As I returned to praying I realized that it was more than just a fear of not getting prepared in time, but rather that I was feeling “the burden”: the burden of handling the Gospel; the burden to bring God’s Word to His people. In all the rushing around to get my regular responsibilities done and get our newly modified service up off the ground I had yet to take time to feel the burden, the weight, the responsibility of sharing Christ with the people of God. This is a good burden to feel. But it is heavy.

Sure, I have spoken at other times for the main church or for youth services, but there is something different in embarking on a mission of regularly addressing a congregation that you desire to be fully transformed and renewed by the power of God’s Spirit at work in their lives through the scripture that they hear. I have felt the burden before in part, but this time it was holding me steady on that couch, unable to move until I understood its severity.

Eventually the rest of the staff came into the room to begin our meeting; I changed from my prone position to one that allowed others to sit next to me on the couch and we began to read. We took turns reading through all six chapters of Ephesians. And even though I have been spending a lot of time in this book this past couple of months I heard something new (actually, I read and heard it at the same time because it landed on my turn):

“and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” [Ephesians 6:19-20]

This was exactly what I needed to hear. Paul takes prayer very seriously and has a couple of prayers in Ephesians that are very powerful (Eph 1:15-23 & 3:14-21). In my last post I quoted from the latter to highlight my prayer for you. But while I had focused on Paul’s prayers for these churches, I had missed out on seeing Paul, the great apostle that he is, asking for prayer to do the very thing he had done so many times already: share the Gospel with boldness. Paul understood the burden and even at this point in his life (in chains for preaching the Gospel with boldness… that’s not my situation at all!) he did not become so comfortable with preaching that he still didn’t desire prayer for God to move and give him the words to speak. This baffles me, but it encourages me.

At the end of our staff’s discussions of various church matters (like helping our people become more Biblically literate and focused on prayer) we spent an extended time in prayer ourselves. I didn’t share my new request with anyone or the burden I was feeling, but two of our pastors used the time to pray for me for this very need. I was grateful; I was refreshed. I love our church.

Please, if you read this and you are a follower of Christ pray for me, and pray for your leaders as well. Sharing the good news of Jesus Christ is a burden, one we must take seriously and in the power of God’s Spirit. We need your prayers.

“and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” [Ephesians 6:19-20]

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “the burden

  1. Pingback: A Preacher’s Reflections | A Pilgrim's Friend

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s