Message preparation is hard for me. Last summer I set aside a month to craft four messages. This was familiar material. For twenty years I lived in this material and used it in my latest book. It shouldn’t be this hard, I complained. As the retreat date grew closer, pressure rose. I was fearful that hungry women expecting soul-bread would leave empty. I pushed aside the message-confusion on my dining room table and paced the perimeter of my small backyard. Once again I said, “This is the last time I say ‘Yes’ to speaking.”
This pattern would be boring in its predictability if it weren’t so excruciating.
Desperate prayer. And God uses Solomon’s words to express my sense of inadequacy and amazement. “And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in” (I Kings 3:7).
Solomon’s prayer shapes mine. “And now, O Lord my God, you have made me the speaker in place of Cynthia Heald or Jill Briscoe or somebody else who is a really good speaker, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.”
I find it uncomfortable to be a little child. But it keeps me “coming in” both in weakness and wonder. I’m humbled that God wants to use me.
Since then I’ve noticed the phrase “going out and coming in” elsewhere in the Bible. It’s easy to read past, but it incapsulates the life of faith. I go out into His calling and recognize my need. I come in to the Lord, to gaze at Him again, to feed off His nourishing life. Then abiding, I venture out again into the mundane, exciting, or terrifying.
Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).
“Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out” (Deuteronomy 28:6).
Needy, I come in; strengthened and grateful, I go out. This is a mystery to live.