As I have been working this year–mostly due to watching Poets, Prophets, and Preachers–on wrestling control of my message prep time from the “creating something from nothing in the span of Friday and Saturday night” to the “bucket collecting method” I’ve noticed two things:
1. When we are constantly aware of God’s presence in our every-day conversations and adventures, such as driving or dish-washing or kite-flying, I notice that God doesn’t give us a formula or outline to whittle down on Saturday night, but a web of Truth to dig out and untangle. It reminds me of the time I tried to hook my first Nintendo into my parents’ entertainment center. As I carefully peeked around the back or our massive big-screen tube TV, as it was steadied by my dad, I saw a wiry mess of cords, plugs, and ports. I knew it was all there. Every port and cable was provided for everything to be plugged in such a way that it would all fit and work together; I just needed to detangle it. So, Friday and Saturday now features me, peering at note cards, and scribblings, reminiscent of those red-white-and-yellow cords, while my heavenly Father holds up the TV and points occasionally, offering advice, but never interfering, leaving my smaller arms and fingers to reach around and fiddle with it all until a clear image appears. And we both cheer and start playing. And I’m always Luigi, because I like green.
2. Message-prep is also like an oven, but not in the way I used to think of it. Most of us sermoneers–Is that a word? I guess it is now.–have heard the oven analogy. “Preparing a message is like cooking; it’s an oven not a microwave.” I used to think the image went like this: I am the chef, cooking up the message. I toss in the ingredients, like illustrations and stories, and let it sit until it turns all golden brown with crispy edges. Ding! The message is done. Go to bed.
But I’m not the chef; I think I’m probably the oven. God is making something, and my job is to stay open while he is putting stuff in. All week, all month, all year, I try to stay open. I never know when God will decide, “Hmm, I think it’s going to need scallions.” So he gingerly tosses them my way, and I just stay open. Eventually it’s time to cook, so I get hot and bake it all down, until the crust is flaky, and the meat is tender. Yum. I am much more confident that it will be good when I know I’m not cooking.
See you all at dinner time!