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On the night before I preach, I pace-back and forth in my room, mumbling sermonic thoughts, testing them, scorning a hundred thoughts, exulting in one or two that shine like coin, investing those.

I grow breathless when I pace. I make strange noises. But the house must be as silent as death. And the mighty God must stand by me to save me, because there surely will come great waves of doubt to drown me, and then I will splutter, "Help me, Lord!" and gasp: "What do you want me to say?"

Not all the scriptural interpretation in the world will save me from this nighttime ride on stormy water: I'm going to preach, and I get scared. In the few hours I sleep, I dream. In my dreams I arrive at church too late, and people are leaving. I can't find my vestments, my clothes are shabby, and people are impatient. Or (the second greatest horror) smack in the middle of preaching, I notice that I'm in my underwear. Or (the worst) I've forgotten totally what I'd planned to say.

I wake at 5 A.M. I don't eat ...

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