One time, I decided to cook a surprise meal for my family. I cook for them fairly often, so Dad in the kitchen wasn’t the surprise. The key is, because it was to be a surprise, I didn’t check that I was doing the right meal.
Steak was in the fridge – lots of it, and ready to cook. So, a quick searing to seal in the flavour, loads of fresh ingredients and we ended up with a gorgeous looking meal.
Which was quite inedible. Because that steak wasn’t fresh, tender, eat-me-so-rare-you-can-still-hear-the-moo. It was braising steak, that needed many hours to tenderise and share its flavour.
I forget what we ate that night, but I didn’t cook it.
Today I was preaching, after a really busy week, and with less time than I would like to have given to it. I’d known for some time that this week was going to be somewhat stretched, and so I had planned ahead with some prep, and deliberately used the material in a conference seminar a couple of weeks ago, But Life had happened in a big way as well, and I arrived this morning less ready than I would like.
Now, I don’t want to exaggerate. This wasn’t quite the disaster that the meal had been, but it felt uncomfortably close to me. Even though I’d thought and prayed about the sermon, something that should have been on a slow simmer had been microwaved, and I could tell the difference.
God is kind, and he uses sermons like that. (In fact, all our sermons look like that from his eternal perspective, anyway). But I could tell the difference, and I know I didn’t give him, or his people, my best.
And I know that if I preached every time like that, everybody else would start to spot the difference too.
So I keep banging on about the time it takes to prepare a sermon and planning ahead, not so that we can get more done, but so we can think and pray over a longer period. You and I need that time.
Let those sermons simmer.