The Preacher

Taken from Heralds of God by James S. Stewart

"Redemptive work is always costly. There is no hope of ease for the faithful servant of the cross. It is involved in the very nature of his task that he can never be at the end of it. Not his to evade the burden and heat of the day: physical weariness, sickness of heart and bitter disappointment, the strain of the passion for souls, all the wear and tear of vicarious burden-bearing – these he will know in full measure. He may even find himself wondering sometimes why he ever accepted a commission in a warfare in which there is no discharge. He may have moods when a haunting sense of anticlimax overwhelms him. It is one thing to set out gallantly when the flags are waving and the drums summoning to a new crusade, but is it quite another thing to keep plodding on when the road is difficult and the initial impetus has spent its force and the trumpets of the dawn have ceased to blow. It is one thing to have inspirations; it is another to have tenacity. My little children, wrote Paul to the Galatians, of who I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you: a swift and startling turn of phrase giving a profoundly moving insight into the price of true Christian ambassadorship. For –It is by no breath,
Turn of eye, wave of hand, that salvation joins issue with death-

And if ever a man finds the work of the ministry becoming easily manageable and surmountable, an undemanding vocation without strain or any encumbering load of care, he is to be pitied, not congratulated: for he has so fragrantly lost touch with the One whose ministry of reconciliation could be accomplished and fulfilled only through Gethsemane and Calvary. Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. Unless something of the evangelist's life-blood goes into his quest for souls and into the word he brings them from the Lord, the quest remains fruitless and the word devoid of delivering power."

James Stuart Stewart (1896 - 1990) was a minister in the Church of Scotland and professor at the University of Edinburg. He grew up in Dundee and graduated from the University of St. Andrews in 1917. He served as Chaplain to the Queen in Scotland from 1952 to 1966. Author of many books, he was voted by Preaching Magazine in 1999 as the best preacher of the 20th century.