In London, sitting next to someone from Nigeria. It’s conference time. Several thousand women come together to hear from God. Its a women’s conference without the knitting and the recipes. Doing business with God, whatever that means to whomever. At some point freebies are given out, just because. The girl next to me generously lets me have hers. A lip-balm called “All talk”.
Six years ago, sitting in Sierra Leone in a hut during a New Years service, I get to read out Isaiah. Chapter six, verses one to seven. In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven.
Three and a half years earlier, during a church service, my Pastor asks who envisions himself preaching the word one day. My hand goes up. Weird. I hate talking, as I see it as a waste of time. My depression and cynicism has advanced to the point of utter despair. Nothing ultimately matters, talking included. Why do I raise my hand? No idea. From that day onwards, there is hardly a moment where I don’t envision myself preaching. In front of crowds. Yep. No reason for it, but much frustration with it. So far it looks as though this is the event which has been cancelled.
My future, cancelled. Shit! I never exactly asked for this desire. But it keeps growing stronger. Those days I pray particularly about giving me the opportunity to preach I am sure to encounter someone who does. “Oh, I get to preach today! So cool!” “Yep, cool for you, you little…”, I think only to myself. For a good two years this is a common theme in my life. After some time I am no longer phased by it. I seemed to have learned. This would be a good time for the frustration to seize and the preaching to hit a point of reality. Nope, nothing. Instead, well meant advice from friends who are concerned for my sanity. “Oh, we all preach, all the time. Just maybe not with our words, but with our actions”, some proclaim, believing to help me with their advice. They don’t help. It’s painful.
A good fifty times I reach the point where I believe to no longer care. Yes, all my flesh is dead. I no longer preach on a daily basis when sitting on the bike to work or when I’m doing the dishes. Somehow, death is a good starting point for resurrection to begin. I remain hopeful. However, it’s been about four years since I first felt utterly dead, I can’t be any more dead in my desires, nothing left. Only a rotting corpse of stinking desires. Doesn’t look much like resurrection just yet. I reach so many points of insight, of understanding, of repentance, and yet, neither does the desire materialize nor does it go away. Dear sweet Jesus. I even pray for the desire to seize. I can’t handle this any more.
Nothing! Still wanting to preach. I even consider telling my career advisor that I want to preach. No, I haven’t studied theology. Nope, I am not in a denomination where I could pursue some career path. Sure, in my church normal people do get to preach. Apparently never me, though. Once, for five minutes. Oh, God. I want to make money out of preaching though. Big headed, I know. But if things were entirely up to me, I would be dead by now. Suicide was a very attractive option back then, in 2005, when my pastor asked. If it had been up to me, this life had shown itself most unkind, and I desired only the seizing of it.
So probably, if the desire to preach would ever stop, my desire to live would go right along with it. Speaking God’s word was like water to a gaunt, emaciated body in the desert. Preaching to myself quickened my soul. Brought strength to those weak bones. I am already preaching: to myself! Letting this desire be stolen by despair, that would be the end of me. No one can have my future other than Jesus. Even a probably unfulfilled wish will not change that. I don’t put my hope in talk, but in Jesus. And He surely isn’t all talk.