I Miss Preaching, but I Still Am

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” – St Francis Assisi

All month long, I’ve been seeing my colleagues and sisters in ministry Facebook about the Martha Stearns Marshall Preaching Month for Baptist Women, a chance for churches to support women in ministry and give them the opportunity to preach in the pulpit.  This is the first February in several years I haven’t done that.  I didn’t have the opportunity to preach this year.

My roommate asked me the other day if I miss preaching.  I had to think about that for a few minutes and realized that I do miss it.  I miss studying the lectionary and writing down my questions.  I miss reading the commentaries and finding answers to some of those questions and more questions to ask.  I miss doing my mind maps to organize my thoughts.  I miss the moments when the sermon seeps through the keyboard and onto the screen, coming together in a way I never imagined.  I definitely miss getting behind the pulpit on Sunday mornings, saying a quiet prayer and then sharing the words that God asked me to speak.  Then when I am done, I sit down and let out a small sigh of relief, thinking I’ve done my best.  The rest is up to God.

So yes, I miss preaching.

However, I look at what I’m doing now. I am a Chaplain Resident in a Level 1 Trauma Center hospital.  I am doing something I’ve not done before – at least not to the work and depth I am doing now.  I am studying. I am researching. I am asking questions and searching for answers.  More importantly, I am bringing a message to those who are lost – not an evangelical loss, but lost in a place where they are afraid. They may be grieving, hurting, or searching for their answers.  I don’t know what I will face when I enter a room, but I still trust that God will guide me wherever I need to go.  The difference between being in the pulpit or being in the hospital room is hard to say.  I prepare what I can.  I quietly pray before I enter and lift up a breath of release when I leave.  The difference is I may never say a word when I hold a patient’s hand.  We may laugh, cry, or just sit in the quiet reflection.   There will be prayers of grace when a family watches their loved one take her last breath; or words of healing for the elderly man going into surgery.  I will hold a falling mother in my arms as she hears that her daughter died in the car accident or her son died by a gunshot wound.   I sit with a family when the doctors say the words they never want to say, “There is nothing more we can do.”

In the other part of this ministry, I will hug a nurse who experienced her first death and pray with the secretary who is having a difficult time at home.  I pray with the nurse whose patient hits too close to home for him and cry with the doctor who told the family, “There is nothing more I can do.”

When the day is done, I walk to my car wondering if I’ve done my best and then I leave the rest of it to God.

So yes, I am still preaching.

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2 Responses to I Miss Preaching, but I Still Am

  1. Oh Linda I am so happy that these people have you in those moments you described. You have lifted my hear today more than you know. Keep on! Love, Wendy

  2. Ron Smith says:

    Yes, you are still preaching, but now you are doing you preaching on the front lines where people are feeling immediate and real pain and sorrow. In my opinion, your preaching ministry will probably never be as important as it is right now. Not being a minister, I can only guess what it is like to stand in the pulpit and preach a sermon, but I assume that there are times when you might wonder whether your sermon has really had any effect. In the hospital setting, when you minister to those who are in the midst of pain and sorrow, there can be little question as to whether your ministering has any effect. It does. The parts of Jesus’ ministry that have had the biggest effect on me were when he was ministering directly to those who were in the midst of pain and sorrow whether it was healing the sick or raising from the dead another person’s loved one. I am sure you already are, but I if I were you, I would be proud that you are able to be there to offer comfort when other people are confronting their darkest moments. I am sure that this type of work takes a toll on you emotionally, but always remember that what you are currently doing is very important and there is probably few other ways that you can share God’s love as much as you are doing right now. Take care and best wishes to you and your ministry.

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