Imagine this: A large room or auditorium packed with students. Maybe there are 200 of them; or maybe even 900+. The seminar starts off in a typical fashion, with opening remarks and the national anthem or the school hymn. Finally you are introduced as the guest speaker and it is your turn. For the next hour or two, you will be educating, inspiring, and to a certain extent entertaining some young minds.
Does this sound like a dream come true for you? It is for me too. To be completely honest, it is also my worst nightmare come true.
Here’s what I mean: I am by nature shy and therefore completely terrified of public speaking. “Hindi halata” (it isn’t obvious) is what most people say when I disclose this little secret. It may not be obvious, but it is true.
Maybe you think I am exaggerating. I’m not. I was the kid who hated doing a presentation in front of the class. The more people present, the quieter I became.
I remember one of the first youth Sundays we had at church. I had to lead the whole congregation (300+) in a prayer. I came down from the safety of the choir loft and bowed my head before I got anywhere near the microphone. I walked up to the microphone, gulped, and managed to utter a short prayer, not daring to look at the congregation again until I had made it back to the safety of the choir loft.
I kind of wondered if God knew what He was doing when he called me to serve Him. Ministers get up in front of people to preach and teach. “I’m not sure I can do that,” I thought to myself. When I think about God’s calling on my life, I think of the conversation He had with Moses:
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”
Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”
I can relate to the fears that Moses had. I don’t really remember arguing with God when He began calling me. I knew Him well enough to know that I wouldn’t win the argument. My church supported me and even allowed me to preach my first sermon to them on a Wednesday night. “Nervous” cannot even begin to describe the way I felt. “God,” I prayed, “this has to be the craziest thing I have ever attempted in my life. If this is a disaster, it is your fault.”
The sermon went pretty well, but hopefully I’ve improved as a speaker over time. The rest is, as they say, history. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined the opportunities God has given me. It is all because of Him. Just as Moses would have been content to live his days in the desert, I would have been content never once speaking in public.
I’ll quote another stanza from “Just Like You” by Jacob’s Trouble:
Well I’m staring down the barrel of a loaded microphone
While a crowd of faces wait expectantly
Well I wonder what you’ve come for
And I wonder what you need
And I wonder why you’re listening to me
Cause I don’t have the answers, baby I can’t get it right
But I’ll to my best to point you to the light, tonight
I still get nervous sometimes when I am about to preach or present a seminar. Sometimes it is still hard to believe anyone would want to listen to me. This is the wonderful thing about God–He takes us out of our “comfort zone” and uses us in ways we never would have imagined.
Maybe you think that God looks for the most talented people and calls them. Maybe you think you are not gifted enough to do anything for God. Don’t ever believe that. God isn’t looking for great talent, just complete obedience.
You can’t, but God can.
Blessings to you,
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