30th July 2021

The theme for today is inspiration – what it looks like and, perhaps more importantly, what it feels like. For the first twenty or so years of my pastoral ministry and like most other ministers at that time, I had to produce two sermons each week. It was rarely, if ever, possible to wait for a sense of a message burning within me to be proclaimed to God’s people. The congregation had its expectations and there was a job to be done. The wonder is that, under the grace of God, such ‘bread and butter’ sermons more often than not seemed to serve a useful purpose; but I must also report that occasionally what I felt was an absolute zinger of a sermon, what I regarded as a vitally important word from God, barely raised an eyebrow of interest. Ahh, the foolishness of preaching and preachers!

Of course you don’t have to be a preacher to be caught up in this. As Christian disciples we all want our lives, our words and deeds, to serve God and to be helpful to others, but I suspect days and weeks can go by when we doubt we’ve been of use to anyone, let alone God. Holy thoughts and ambitions haven’t filled our minds, and when we have deliberately tried to bring our faith into a situation, it hasn’t always been appreciated or understood. It seems to me that living an inspired life is less about performing miracles or producing thunderclaps of divine wisdom, and more about offering the bread and butter of our lives to God’s Spirit and leaving the outcome to him.

Ken Stewart