I don’t remember being as nervous as I was this past Sunday over a sermon.
I tossed and turned the night before, not being able to sleep. I kept going through the words, wondering if I’ll be able to do this.
It’s not that I was going to say something damning or going to preach some sort of brimstone and fire type of sermon. It’s the way the sermon was prepared and the way it was going to be delivered that made me (quite literally) sick to my stomach. I didn’t think I was going to be able to pull it off, and it was far too late to change my mind. Or change anything, for that matter.
I had a lot of time in airports to prepare for the sermon. We’re currently on a sermon series called “No Worries” and the sermon was to be about how we can live a life of “no worries” in the midst of all the things going on in the world. And how we can bring hope to others so that they can live a life of “no worries” as well, going along with the last passage of Isaiah 40.
I coudn’t get any thoughts down. And I was getting nervous because it was Thursday. Usually by Thursday, the sermon is pretty much done. But, I was just starting. All that kept repeating in my head was the beginning of the chapter, “Comfort, comfort my people” and the repetitive “Do you not know? Have you not heard?”
I kept hearing a song. I kept hearing a poem. And a crazy thought occured to me. (100% positive that it was the prompting of the Spirit). I started youtubing all sorts of spoken poetry. My brother, years back, told me about Def Jam poetry and I started search on youtube for Def Jam poetry readings.
I started thinking, “What if I delivered my sermon in spoken word poetry style?” followed, immediately, by, “Ain’t no way I can pull this off.” But I couldn’t get away from it.
So I went along with the gut prompting within me. I was very surprised how fast the sermon was written, which made me even more worried. How can this be any good if it came to me so fast? How am I going to actually do this? And no, it wasn’t lost on me that I was preparing to preach about not having worries.
On Friday evening, I went to see how the sermon felt out loud and not just on paper. After the first run through, I had no idea what to think of it. And I felt a panic rise from deep within, because I knew that it just may be too late to change my mind.
On Saturday, for the first time ever, I asked my wife to come and preview the sermon. I also had lost all confidence in that I could memorize the whole thing. So I put the sermon on power point and had it projected on the rear projector alone, so that on Sunday morning, I’d be the only one (well along with the choir and praise band) able to see the words.
My wife gave me affirmation and encouragement, but more importantly critical suggestions. “Don’t sneak looks at the projector. Either look at it fully or memorize it.” “Smile with your eyes. It’s a thin line between being intense and coming off angry. You don’t want to come off angry. At least not this time.”
I still had worries that this was not going to end well. Earlier in our marriage, I must’ve gave some awful sermon, because my wife said to me (before we even got into the car), “Today, not only did you waste my time, but you wasted God’s time.” I was absolutely terrified that this would be one of those days where I would waste not just church’s time, but God’s time.
All throughout Saturday, I was saying little prayers here and there. Saturday evening, I came to church to do one more run through, but more to just sit in the sanctuary and be in God’s presence, and trying my best not to worry.
I woke up early on Sunday morning with butterflies I’ve never felt before. And I was still in bed and just wanted to stay there. But I got up and mustered a prayer saying, “It’s not about me. May you be glorified today” and went to church.
I think things went well. It wasn’t disasterous as I thought it would be. My only regret was that I didn’t have it memorized.
But I knew that the Spirit was moving in me and that God was speaking through me. And I knew that this was all God’s doing. I would’ve never thought of preaching in a spoken word poetry manner. And I don’t really see myself doing it again any time soon. But it’s amazing to see how the Spirit moves you into directions that you never thought of.
After it was all said and done, I was exhausted. And relieved. There wasn’t a sense of, “Man I did a good job” but more of a “Man, I’m just glad I didn’t get in the way.” Because, at the end of the day, I fully am aware that, again, this was all God’s doing.
I do have a new semi-obsession now: spoken word poetry. One of these days, I want to perform a stand-up comedy routine and now, a spoken word performance. But I don’t think I’m gifted in that manner. But on the bucket list they go.