“So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.” ( John 21:3c)
Sometimes when I sit down to write a sermon I feel a lot like the disciples must have felt after fishing all night and catching nothing. I get to the point where my weariness overcomes me and I fall asleep on the keyboard only to wake up to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… for several lines or a whole page. At that point, I admit defeat and crawl into bed. I then pray that the Holy Spirit will inspire me to put my net back into the waters the following day. The Holy Spirit always comes through. I think perhaps I sometimes get the process backwards and have neglected to pray before writing. In any event, Jesus will always prompt me, not for my sake, but for the sake of the people to whom I minister.
It is amazing how I can read the same scripture over and over and something completely new will jump out at me. Of course, given the same passage, no two ministers will write the same sort of sermon. You just have to believe that whatever you are writing is going to touch someone, to be the message somebody needs that day.
Once in a while I have had to ad-lib a sermon. Either I have had a revelation on the way to church or I have suddenly felt an overwhelming conviction that what I have prepared just isn’t the right message for that day. That is when I need prayer the most. The danger in “flying by the seat of one’s pants” by doing such a thing is that I might be tempted to go overtime and lose the attention of the congregation. Or I could get hoist by my own petard, so to speak, as I did once when I was asked to do the message for Mothers’ Day for a women’s group in the church. I struggled with a passage on Martha and Mary and finally went to sleep, promising myself that I would write it just before leaving for the church. Needless to say, even on the way there I was not sure what I would say. Somehow, once in the pulpit, I found the words , although to this moment I cannot remember just what I said. Whatever it was, everyone seemed pleased. As a matter of fact, someone from another church asked me if I could possibly come and give that same message for their church women. Gulp! Of course, with great chagrin, I accepted the invitation. I often wonder if what I actually said that day was what that person thought they remembered.
No wonder God wants us to love kindness, seek justice and walk humbly with Him.