Ball players get frustrated when the coach consigns them to the bench. Who wants to sit on a bench when you could be out there on the court helping your team? Watching is not the same as playing. Now shift gears. Think Church instead of basketball court. Preachers don’t sit on benches. They are usually standing up and usually talking. Since the end of December I have been sitting on a bench almost every Sunday. Preachers know better than anybody that sitting there and listening is not the same as standing and telling.
Bench sitting does not come natural for me. My wife keeps whispering at Church: “Sit still…quit fidgeting.” I am trying hard to adjust but it ain’t easy. But I must confess on Saturday nights when the burden of Sunday is not on my shoulders it feels wonderful. When everyone else is still around the dinner table I don't have to excuse myself now and go off to some quiet place and look over my sermon for the next day. Sometimes I used to feel like I didn’t have any word from the Lord and yet I would have to get up there on Sunday morning and say something. What I learned was that it didn't always depend on me. The treasure really does come in clay pots from the Dollar Store! (That’s the preacher.) And on those Sundays when I thought the sermon fell flat often people would come by and tell me how much what I said helped. I wanted to say: “Huh?” But I would smile and thank them. Later I remembered that it wasn't about me after all. God (and I hope this is not sounding too pious) sometimes has taken the feeblest efforts of the Reverend and has spoken tenderly to somebody out there.
But I don’t have to struggle with the Sunday sermon- burdens much now. I am learning how not to squirm so much. I am moved some Sundays when “I am not in charge” to really hear the words of the some hymn and wipe away a tear during the prayer time. I have even been amazed at how moved I have been by some sermon—and my Pastor is very good. But I have been touched more by some little child or someone sitting alone that buried his wife last week. Like the athletes I would much rather be in the game but I learning slowly that grace can even come from sitting on a hard squeaky bench.