Chapter 24

Backdraft Preaching

You've got to reignite the flames Sunday after Sunday

I love preaching. I hate preaching. The best description is Jeremiah's: it is like fire in the bones. It is holy work and dreadful work. It exhausts and it exhilarates, kindles and consumes.

On Mondays, I am charred remains. The hotter I burned on Sunday—the more I preached with fiery conviction and bright hope—the more burned to the ground I am on Monday. I'm restless, but I don't have initiative to do anything or, if I do, the energy to sustain me in it. I'm bone-weary, suffering what the desert fathers called acedia: an inner deadness from the hot sun's scorching.

Worst of all, Monday is lived with the knowledge that I am called to do it all over again next Sunday. Mondays are the days I would rather sell shoes.

But then Sunday comes, and the bones burn again. I am once more a firebrand freshly hot in the hand of God. If I don't preach, I am left with an ache like sorrow. I chafe worse from not preaching than from preaching. "But if I say, 'I ...

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