First Person, First Hand

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You flip through your Bible, strategically placing the marker ribbons near the passages you intend to use most. You glance over at the makeshift notes you’ve put on your phone…Three passages, one story, one theme: Awake from sleep. You hear the scattered, half-hearted, insincere voices of the youths faltering over a hymn. To your knees you fall, begging God to take any self in you away so that you can transparently communicate a message from heaven. You rise just as the opening song begins. You sing.

 

The Chaplin then makes his way to the front and gives a few remarks, and then you come forward to the applause of the kids who say they like it when you speak. You look into their eyes. They are not with you. They have no energy. That’s not good. You need them to be energized. You start off telling a random, humorous object lesson that you learned during the day. All are amused and a few get the point.

 

You start with prayer and then share the word. The concept comes first, then two parables, and then you tell the Bible story that brings it all together. The kids seem to pay attention. You try to keep them with you. You pray silently while you speak. The story goes on. They love the little humorous details you imaginatively inject into the story. They are entertained. The tone of your message shifts as you move to the conclusion of it all. You bring out points that make some uncomfortable. The faces that had been smiling are now dark and somber. You catch the eyes of one who glares at you from the back with an almost demonic expression, muttering under his breath. You keep preaching.

 

It’s appeal time. You pour your heart out. You have nothing left to say, and yet the Lord has you still speaking. With a trembling voice that is almost gone, you make the call to stand. Some stand. You stretch the appeal, knowing that more need to stand. All that will stand are standing. You can’t see them. Hearts have opened to the Lord, but you can’t see them. Your spirit weeps. You hide the tears of your heart with a smile on your face. You consecrate, in prayer, those who have made a decision and beg God to keep working on those who would not.

 

You walk away. Weak and broken. Wondering why God still uses you. You find water, you find a seat. You find no rest. You gather those you are responsible for and take them to the dorm. You try to share with those who have questions about the message, but they can’t seem to hear you. You tell them that you’ve been where they are. They don’t get it. You tell them that when their feelings contradict the reality of what God’s Word says, they must, in faith, hold on to the Word of God over their feelings. They don’t understand. You are empty, poured out like water. You send them off to bed. Your thoughts are far away. You can’t see the ones who stood at the impression of the Spirit. All you see is those who sat.

 

Is there something more you could have done. Had you prepared more, would the outcome have been different? Had you been more closely surrendered, had you yielded yourself not just before you spoke, but all day…all week…could the Spirit’s power have been increased? Could more hearts have been touched? You could have done more. Hours pass, and into the hours of the night, you are sick to your stomach. You could have done more. You can’t see those who stood…only those who sat. You could have done more. May God have mercy on your soul.

 

Now you’re supposed to go to sleep.

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