Most Sundays when I approach the pulpit, I'm prepared. I believe in hard work, study, and spending hours getting ready for the preaching and teaching that I do at church. But, this Sunday I was not. Emotionally, I was a wreck. Mentally, I was clouded. Physically, I was tired. Spiritually, I was dull. "This is going to go terribly," I thought. The music faded, I took the pulpit, I prayed, and I opened my mouth.
What followed was nothing of Adam Mabry. It's a little difficult to explain. I was involved, obviously. I was present, and I was active. But the power of the words, the effect they were having on the people, and the results which flowed from my preaching, were so obviously not from me that I was quite literally dumbfounded. People came to faith in Jesus. Repentance flowed as tears streamed. Sicknesses were healed. It was as though, for a moment, the veil between Heaven and earth was pulled back, and we experienced a small expression of the glory of God.
This experience of my desperate inadequacy and God's gracious sufficiency afforded me a few insights:
God Doesn't Need Me Theologically, I knew that God didn't need me before yesterday. But the experience I had yesterday of being completely at the end of my rope mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually — and God doing so much anyway — solidified what I knew.
God Loves His People How crazy is the love of God for people that he'll simply meet with his people directly?! My preparation is not the pre-condition for God's manifestation.
God Loves Me Again, a fact I knew, but not an experience I walked in. Yesterday, across our three services, we had the best attendance we've had all summer. We had the most response to God we've ever seen. We had the most dramatic experience of worship that our gatherings have ever achieved. I watched it and all I felt was God saying, "See, I love you. I've got this."
God Wants Me This one is the most mind-bending of all. I "love" a lot of people that I don't want to be around much. That's because I'm still selfish and self-preferring. God's not like that. God actually wants to use me. He wants to be around me. He wants to meet with me, and my people. He doesn't need to, that's obvious. The only other option is that, for some reason, he really likes to. And that's crazy.
I've read God's words to the Apostle Paul a thousand times, "My power is made perfect in weakness." But yesterday — yesterday I saw it.
Yesterday I was weak. And God — God was so strong.