We’ve been refinishing our wooden deck and lawn furniture. I’ve been doing the preparation and Vickie has been doing most of the painting. The preparation consists of washing and sanding, and then more washing and more sanding and sometimes repairs. As with all painting, the preparation determines the quality of the paint job – paint will not adhere long to a surface that is poorly prepared.
As I worked on the furniture last weekend it occurred to me that prepping and painting deck furniture is a lot like preaching, teaching, and listening to preaching and teaching. A preacher or teacher who does not carefully prepare need not think that what he speaks will adhere to his listeners. A listener who does not prepare his heart and mind need not think that what he hears will remain with him. When we gather for corporate worship we need not be surprised if we receive little when we have but little prepared our souls to encounter the Living God.
This coming week I have meetings with three clients, I have been preparing for those meetings. Tomorrow morning I plan, the Lord willing, to meet with my wife and other believers for worship – have I been preparing for that throughout this past week? Tomorrow is a communion Sunday, have I been especially preparing for that?
Preparing our hearts cannot wait until we hear the first prayer, the first music, the first words from the pulpit – hearts thus prepared are not prepared, that is the equivalent of a drive-thru church experience – we come, we consume, we quickly forget. The seed sown in Jesus’ parable was all good seed – it was the soil that differed. What does the soil of my heart look like?
On the preaching side, one difference between a message that works with a passage (expository) and a message that flits around proof-texting, is that the former requires deep spade work, the text must be submitted to, worked, reworked, and allowed to work. While the latter is a game of hopscotch that hits a point here and a point there with generally little depth due to little deep preparation – the paint flakes off the latter.
Is my heart prepared for tomorrow as I gather with the saints before God?