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A Preaching Nightmare
Saturday, May 9, 2020 by Dan Allen

It happened again—a preaching nightmare.

I’ve mentioned before that every now and then I’ll have a dream about something that goes wrong in the pulpit—either I forgot my notes, my Bible, or bedlam breaks out. Once my office was flooded and I had to swim to my desk to get my sermon.

The other night’s dream had me in my home church where I entered a packed sanctuary going down the street–side aisle. Oddly enough, as soon as the folks saw me, they started clapping. That should have been a tip off that this wasn’t going to end well. Most churches, at which I preach, may appreciate my homily, but rarely do they show it by applause. Down the aisle I went, right up to the pulpit only to discover I did not have my Bible or sermon notes. This is a catastrophe for me as a manuscript preacher, which means I read my sermons. Oh, you’re hard–pressed to observe that since I’m quite adept at keeping good eye contact with the congregation while I’m reading (I’ve been doing this for over 40–years). So, not having my notes is a major problem. I might be able to wing–it if I had a Bible, but that wasn’t around either. And, for the life of me, I could not remember what the sermon was about, not even the introduction. I had nothing — my mind drew a complete blank.

Vonnie was seated near the front and I sent her to a room where I thought my Bible would be. She came back empty handed. Remember, when I mentioned above that the place was packed? Well, it wasn’t any more. I didn’t see anyone leave, yet. They must have just melted away.

I fumbled around some more to see if I could come up with something—anything, and profusely  apologized to the folks. Then a man near the front, with his family, stood up and walked out. Simultaneously, the doors in the back opened and all the kids from Children’s Church marched single file back in. It was obvious—church was over.

I remember walking back the same aisle I came up and there on a little cabinet was my Bible. When I returned to the front down the center aisle, someone suggested that I could now preach. “No way,” I responded. “I’ll save this for next Sunday.” Another suggested I post it on Linkin. I rarely use this social media platform and don’t even know if that’s a possibility. I then woke up in a cold sweat. 

Whenever I have a dream like this, I try to remember it for when I wake up to tell Vonnie. In fact, when I did get up, I started analyzing the dream and may have discovered something. The applause started at the same location where my Bible was found. Did the dream mean that I am more interested in adulation than exhortation? Am I looking more for the applause of men than for the acknowledgment of obedience by God? This pandemic has kept me cloistered away from the churches I typically preach at and I’m missing the many friends at these churches. But, am I more interested in them than preaching God’s Word. Is this self praise as opposed praising God?

Do dreams mean something? Sometimes they might, and this one got me thinking. Perhaps I need to concentrate on pleasing God rather then being pleased by people.


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