I am tired - really tired. My limbs ache, and my voice is shot to pieces, but yet I have a huge sense of gratitude and joy, because this is all due to preaching - that is to say Bible-teaching. Over the last week or so I have spoken more intensively than ever before (eight messages in eight days!), but it hasn't just been a challenge - it has been the most wonderful thing to have been able to do! Last night, as I drove back down the A9 after a trip to visit good friends in Fort William I was stirred in my spirit with a sense not just of gratitude to God for the opportunity to lead two services, preach twice and do a children's message - but also with a profound sense of the sheer privilege it is to stand in front of a congregation and open the Bible and to preach it.
That is not to say that all of these messages were any good! In fact they were a bit of a mixed bag - some went well, some not so well. What's more, it's really important that they didn't all go well - otherwise it would be all too easy to fall into the awful trap of egotism; after all - I have spent hours being listened to! What's more, when people appreciate what you have said they tell you; but when its not been so good they don't - and so how painfully easy it is to overestimate your own significance.
But yet - what a privilege it remains to have time to wrestle with a text, to pore over a commentary or two and gather a wealth of material until that wonderful moment when a coherent structure begins to emerge from all the notes. It remains an immense challenge to pray until able to please God, and not seek primarily to impress people - something I perhaps rarely achieve. What a deeply significant and wonderful thing it then is, when you can sense God moving as His word is delivered, when His strength comes and there is a sense of freedom in the delivery; when people say they have learned new truths from the word; or have been moved again by truths they have known for many years.
It's a really wonderful thing to be able to take part in! I just sometimes can't quite believe that God wants me to be involved!