Emotional exhaustion; physically tired. I didn't expect it to take so much out of me, but it did. I have done it over and over for nearly 24 years, but it still surprises me when I walk away drained to the bone.
It's not bad - don't get me wrong. I have tried very hard to handle the Word of a jealous God to his people and simultaneously be faithful to it, to Him, and to them. And sometimes it takes the energy out of whatever reserves I thought I had. I never seem to sleep well the night before. Sometimes what the Word has to say is full of hope and joy, and sometimes I talk to people who are walking in darkness and pain. In either case, and every case in between, my mind, body, and heart are left wrung out.
But it is for the good of the church, and of the people of God. At least I tell myself that. Maybe I missed the boat and everyone in the room walked away thinking, "That was nice. What's for lunch?" and I walked away ready for a nap. Maybe a life was stirred by my inevitably inadequate attempt to talk about the One True God and bring people to the foot of the cross or the threshold of an empty tomb. By the grace of God, may it be.
I do it over and over, like mowing my lawn or shoveling my driveway in the middle of a blizzard. There always seems to be a reason to do it again, a need that rises to the surface like a stubborn weed. Or maybe the weekly repetition has caused my words to sound like the ticking of the clock on the wall. It's there, and we know it's there, we just don't hear it anymore. But I tick on. Pastors keep keeping time according to the rhythms and motions of God's kingdom in a realm that listens to different clocks and follows flashier time pieces.
Nonetheless, the Word of God is sharper than any other tool we can use, and by the work of the Spirit of God, makes its way into the deepest recesses of the human soul. Deeper than we can even see within ourselves.
So, I will fitfully sleep, awake grumpy that I tossed and turned too much, but I will get up and go at it again. It is more important than some other, sleep-friendly substitute, and it is what I was called to do. So the fire burns and my bones quake, anticipating the next week.