Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Being from a small town, it is not uncommon to run into people you know around town. I can recall this happening frequently when I was a child. Friends and acquaintances would kindly speak to me but most of the time the only response I would give was a slight smirk. As I grew into a teen and young adult not much changed. Voted shyest for senior class superlatives and called a mute on more than one occasion, I lived up to the title! Fast forward some 20 years and most would still say I am quiet. While the Lord has grown me significantly in this area, it is fair to say that most of the time I still struggle to break the silence. So, as you can imagine, public speaking is quite difficult for me. My shyness, combined with anxiety almost paralyzes me at times.
Recently, I was invited to share about my ministry at a church. Weeks prior I began trying to gather my thoughts about what I would say. I had some things in my mind and my heart that I thought about sharing but nothing seemed to flow. The days rolled by, and the words just didn’t seem to be coming together. The Friday before sharing, I felt defeated and totally incapable of fulfilling the task that was before me. Lying in the floor of my bedroom, tears rolled down my face as I contemplated calling the pastor to tell him I wouldn’t be able to come and share with the congregation. In frustration, I asked the Lord why He would call me to a ministry that required me to speak in front of large crowds, knowing that I am not capable of speaking in public. At that moment the Holy Spirit began reminding me of all the ways the Lord had been faithful in my life over the last year and a half. I was convicted that I needed to lay my inabilities at His feet. I needed to trust that He would give me the words to speak. I needed to trust that He would equip me to do what He had called me to do. He reminded me of the promise that He would never leave or forsake me, and in that, I knew that although I was indeed incapable of standing and speaking before a large crowd, despite my inabilities, He is able!
Sunday rolled around and the closer I got to the church the more the anxiety built. As I tried to mentally review what I was planning to share, I struggled. There were gaps! I would look at my notes to refresh my memory of what I was to say but nonetheless, I was getting tongue tied just thinking about speaking. Arriving at the church and talking with the pastor, I knew there was no turning back now. Nothing shy of me passing out would prevent me from having to speak, and I wasn’t so sure that I wouldn’t do just that…pass out! As the service started, I continued to try to review what I was planning to share but the more I tried the more jumbled everything was becoming in my mind. If it wasn’t making sense to me in my mind, I knew it certainly wasn’t going to make any sense to the people in the audience. I had been asking God to give me clarity of mind and speech but at this point I simply said, “Okay Lord, it’s all on you now. I’ve got nothing.”
The pastor introduced me to the congregation and trembling I made my way to the podium, all the way saying, “Lord, please help me! Please take over!” As I stood behind that podium, I experienced the Lord’s faithfulness. For the next twenty-eight minutes the Lord prompted my mind of the things He had placed on my heart to share and filled my mouth with new words of things that I hadn’t anticipated sharing.
At the end of the service the pastor asked me to join him in the foyer of the church to interact with the church members as they were leaving. There were lots of handshakes, a few hugs, several words of encouragement, and many expressions of gratitude for me coming and sharing. However, it was the words of one lady that really stuck with me. As she followed the line of fellow church members, slowly exiting the church, she gently leaned towards me and quietly whispered in my ear, “You’re my favorite”. (Let me remind you that this church frequently has missionary speakers in their church.) I meekly chuckled and thanked her for her sweet words. Internally, however, I was dying with laughter as I thought to myself, “Lady, if only you knew”. While I was exceedingly appreciative for her kind words, I knew her consideration of me as her favorite was nothing shy of an act of God. What was destined to be a train wreck based upon my inabilities had truly been rescued by the grace and mercy of the Lord. Of all the things I could have imagined to be said after I spoke, I can assure you that none of them would have come remotely close to anyone considering me as their “favorite”.
I share this story not for personal gain or boasting, but as a testimony to God’s faithfulness. As I made my way to the podium that morning, I knew that without the intervention of the Lord, nothing I said was going to make any sense to anyone. I knew that my nervousness, anxiety, inability, weakness, etc. was in full force and I needed Jesus to take over. That sweet lady may have said that I was her favorite but, in reality, it was the presence of the Lord Jesus himself that was her favorite. It was the Lord who prevented me from being overcome with anxiety and enabled me to stand before the church. It was Him that put the words in my mouth to speak. He was the one who connected the words of my mouth with the hearts of the hearers. He was the one that brought beauty out of absolute ashes that morning.
So, I laugh! I laugh at me. I laugh at my frailty and lack of faith. I laugh with joy at the fascinating power of the Lord who has come to overcome. I laugh because “you’re my favorite” has brought new meaning to my life…a reminder that, it is in my weakness that His power is made perfect!