It was one of those weekends that preachers everywhere dread. It started off innocently enough Friday. I had a little bit of sinus tickle, but that has been my last month or 2 it seems like. I didn’t think much of it throughout the day but my voice started getting a little rough. Still, I didn’t feel sick, wasn’t beginning a cold or anything like that. By Friday night, I could only whisper and Saturday was no better. I emailed one of our elders to see if he could preach for me. Later that day, he got back to me, and just couldn’t think of something to preach on. Besides, his wife just got home from surgery and I am sure was taking good care of her. All of my fall back guys were gone for the weekend and so I had to figure out how to get enough voice out to do a very short lesson Sunday.
Saturday I did a lot of praying for my voice to recover. I listened to my wife as she knew I couldn’t interrupt her as she shared her weekend with me. I listened to this, I listened to that. I whispered a little whenever I had to answer the phone and mostly listened to whoever was on the other end. I realized, I haven’t been a very good listener. I like to talk too much (a Dillinger genetic trait, I believe).
Sunday comes and my voice was barely better. I sounded like a frog going through adolescence! However, it forced me to shut up for the weekend and just listen to life, our worship time, and to God. I knew I wouldn’t be able to preach a full sermon, so one of my elders suggested I share very shortly something that was on my heart. One of our members shared how his loss of hearing by which he made his living helped him hear God’s will better, and I should think about that. I did. I listened, really listened to our worship in the morning. We were missing about a third of our congregation due to travel and sickness so our numbers were really down and our singing was quieter than normal. Still, I heard voices singing their hearts to God. I listened to prayers and communion talks that shared the heart of the speaker. I listened to God tell me he is in control, not me.
My lesson was a short look back of what I hoped would happen last year and how so little of it did happen. Not because of our failures, but simply because we lost a lot of great people to unexpected death and moving. I couldn’t fix it, just like I couldn’t fix my voice. We felt tired and worn out like my voice. Then I shared a couple of passages about not growing weary and that God’s got this. I had to admit I lost sight of God being in control. I was looking for God in the fire and earthquake just like Elijah and God came in a gentle wind, or in my case, a hoarse whisper!
Sometimes we just need to shut up and listen.