It would be untrue and harmful if I gave the impression that every time I preached the gospel, heaven was rent in two and a direct beam from the courts of glory pierced my heart as I rapturously proclaimed the glad tidings of the eternal God.
As glorious as the gospel is, my heart is anything but. Left to itself it is cold, unfeeling, unloving and totally indifferent to the things of God. As horrific as it sounds, that is the condition I found myself in for most of the day. Nevertheless, Saturday came with many, many blessings despite my unfortunate condition.
About a year ago a man donated a very expensive (and powerful) piece of sound equipment to our ministry. We had never used it but for whatever reason Jim decided to bring it out on this day. We gave it a whirl and it was amazing. It amplified our voices powerfully without any of the 'shrill' of a bullhorn (which we never use unless absolutely necessary).
In a wonderful providence and with our new equipment in hand - we 'stumbled' across a new location that, almost unbelievably, we had never before considered. The crossroads is Market and Stockton. The amount of foot traffic is staggering and the potential for gospel proclamation is limitless. Indeed, this was a most wonderful development for our ministry.
While Jim was preaching I would often run across the streets and intersections doing sound-checks to determine the range of the new equipment. When I would stand at a crosswalk, I was amazed to hear the people waiting to cross talking about the preaching. If I were standing next to Jim I never would have guessed that. I would have assumed they were talking about their lunches or new shoes or whatever. It made me realize how many seeds are being planted as we proclaim Christ.
It was time for my last preach of the day. We had to leave in a few minutes in order to get home in time for me to make an appointment. Jim said, "last preach of the day; plead with them." Finally, the clouds broke and my cold heart was warmed by the glory of the gospel. Revival sprang forth for a few minutes and I was pleading and preaching Christ in earnest.
Paul told Timothy to 'stir up the gift' that was in him. It turns out that this was all that was necessary to lite the fire again: the realization that this would be the last preach of the day and possibly of my life. The realization that I am a dying man preaching to dying men. The realization that preaching the gospel is not a matter of life or death - it is a matter of heaven or hell.
"A preacher can be sincere on the low ground of prudential ethics and morals, but he becomes earnest only when he seeks the salvation of the souls of his hearers" (Macartney)