Two Sundays ago I was booked to preach, for my first time, at Village Bible Church in Sugar Grove (in western suburbs of Chicago). I prepared carefully and felt ready on Saturday evening. But, Sunday at 2.00am I was woken by violent stomach pains, and then vomited at hourly intervals until 6.30 am! At 7.30 Carol started attempts to alert the pastor on his cell phone, with no success, and tried in vain other avenues, including the church office.
I was in a dilemma. Feeling bilious, looking wan, but with my sermon prepared, I sensed I ought at least to drive out to the church to alert them. Arriving, and telling them my grim story, some leaders prayed for me...and then gave me a deadline just before the service started, for choosing whether to preach or not. This was a first for me! What did God want me to do? Really? Was a possible blundering on driven by duty and pride? Or, was opting out, just wimpishness - especially after the prayer?
I really wasn't sure as I said "Yes." Yet, while I preached I had a glorious sense of wholeness and strength, in spite of weakness. Returning home I felt jubilant, ate some dry toast, and then started vomiting again. As the pain worsened very considerably through the rest of the day, I headed into ER at 8.30pm, was put on a drip, given an anti-nausea shot, Xrayed etc.
Sent home to recover over the next few days, I reflected on that preaching. Someone said: "Surely, you made it so much worse going out to do that preach!" Another person wrote: "Amazed that God gave you a small window just big enough to preach. Wow."
Sometimes we just don't know if we are meant to push ourselves beyond common sense and how, when we do, prayer can work because God really wants something to happen. I believe it was a preaching "window" but only God can say whether I used it worthily.
Whether you are a preacher or not, have you known such "windows" given in answer to prayer?