Heart & Soul

I know of an old preacher who was dying of brain cancer. As his health deteriorated, he lost his ability to speak. This was no surprise, for the doctors had told him it would happen. What did surprise him was his own reaction.

He wrote to his family saying how pleased he was that when he lost his voice and therefore his ability to preach, he had kept his pleasure in God.

He'd had dark doubts about his motivations. Had preaching become an idol? Would he no longer love God when he was no longer able to do the thing he loved to do for God? Had he slipped into what T. S. Eliot said was the greatest betrayal of all: doing the right thing for the wrong reasons?

He was relieved to discover that, at the end of his life, he had not. He still loved God more than preaching.

Preaching can be heady stuff. True, it is sometimes the opposite. Bruce Thielemann said the call to preach brings no special honor, just special pain, calling "those anointed to it as the sea calls its sailors; and just like the sea, ...

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From Issue:Winter 2000: Wordcasting
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