I’m going to start out by asking you two questions.
1) What makes you anxious?
Telling the Gospel to strangers?
Okay, so the last one probably isn’t going to be relevant in this post, but I really want you to think about this. What is something that stresses you out when it comes up?
2) What have you been called to?
If you’re at least high school age, you probably have some semblance of an idea of what your calling is (unless you’re like me and you pretend you can’t hear God telling you what your calling is for the first 19 years of your life).
Another way to think about this besides in terms of a career is, what part of the Body have you been called to be?
Maybe it’s the ears. Maybe you’ve been called to be a listener, or notice subtle cries for help that no one else around you seems to hear.
Maybe it’s the heart. Maybe God has given you an abundance of compassion for the world around you, and it’s so strong it’s painful sometimes.
Maybe it’s the hands. Maybe God has given you skills in creating things for people.
Think about what it is for you.
Can I tell you something I’ve learned recently?
The enemy would have you give the same answer to both questions.
In my own life, that’s exactly what he orchestrated.
For years I’ve been afraid of speaking. It didn’t matter if it was to one stranger (or even a friend, at times) or in front of a group of people in speech class…although I could manage a conversation with a stranger. There were times I don’t think I could have gotten up and spoken in front of a group.
The enemy had me believe for most of my life that people were dangerous, that speaking to them was dangerous. Having my technical writing professor tell us last spring that we were going to give presentations at the end of the semester was enough to make me consider dropping the class…or taking a zero, at the very least.
And then God broke the news to me: He wanted me to stand up and speak to people for a LIVING. Young people, but people nonetheless. He was asking me to be a mouth for the Body.
Didn’t He know I couldn’t do that?
I started to reason with Him. “Maybe I could design a youth ministry format to where it’s completely centered around small groups. Maybe I won’t give talks at all. We’ll play games and then do some Bible study separately-but-together. It could work, God…”
Maybe it could.
But that’s not what He’s asked me to do.
“But would God really ask us to do something that scares us?”
Let me tell you the story of Moses, the first recorded case of public speaking anxiety.
But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. -Exodus 4:10-14
Moses hears GOD speak to Him from a burning bush. He literally hears the voice of God asking Him to do these things, encouraging him in the fact that He will be with his mouth and teach him what to speak.
And he still can’t do it.
I mean, I’ve gotta give him some credit. This was a big task. The future of his nation rested on his shoulders (or, at least, that’s what he must have thought) and he was tasked with speaking to a hard-hearted, iron-fisted man about it.
But he had heard the voice of God.
One thing that always strikes me about this passage is the fact that God can be reasoned with. He knows what is best for us, but He gives us free will and He knows how to alter His plans to accommodate that free will. In this case, He gave Moses the free will to chicken out even though it ticked Him off a little.
I consider Moses to be a great role model, but I also want to learn from his mistakes. God can be reasoned with, which could give me an excuse to do what Moses did and wiggle out of difficult work. But if I truly believe that He knows best and has my best interests in mind, wouldn’t it make more sense to just bite the bullet and have some blind faith?
Has God been calling you somewhere that you haven’t been willing to consider going? Are you, like Moses, telling God, “Oh my Lord, I am not _____?”
His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Sometimes He likes to do things through the weakest people so that there can be no doubt that He is the One that did it. Rather than be crushed by anxiety, we can boast of our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 11:30) because God’s glory shows even brighter through them.
But what if that anxiety won’t go away?
Note: the kind of anxiety I’ll be talking about here isn’t the debilitating kind that requires professional help. I absolutely believe that God can heal that kind of anxiety, but there are times when seeking help is a good idea.
Anxiety is a dark product of the Fall. It isn’t from God, especially if it is keeping you from doing what you’ve been called to do.
It isn’t something that we can just will away through positive thinking. Our help has to come from God.
Last summer God promised me that He was going to heal my anxiety when it came to speaking. And you know what He did?
I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t a long process. It definitely did not happen overnight, but I asked Him to heal me of it and He walked with me along the road that led to freedom.
Today I did two presentations.
A year ago one presentation was enough to make me want to vomit. Two would have probably made me seriously consider which one I should just take a zero on. I didn’t understand how some people could be unaffected by giving presentations, and I for sure didn’t understand how pastors and youth pastors could just get up and talk for thirty minutes. I couldn’t even make it to six.
During those presentations, I didn’t feel a trace of anxiety. They didn’t scare me while I was preparing them, and they didn’t scare me this weekend the couple of times that they crossed my mind.
The coolest part is that during one of them I got to tell a classroom full of my peers the difference between being a fan of Jesus and following Him. As someone living in the Bible belt, I feel this was a pretty significant occurrence.
If that can happen to me, I DON’T CARE WHAT IT IS FOR YOU. GOD CAN DO IT FOR YOU TOO.
I don’t know how to make you understand how huge of a testimony this is for me. It sure as heck didn’t happen because of my positive thoughts or my willpower. It happened because God was faithful to answer one scared little college kid’s prayer over the course of a year. I was TERRIFIED of speaking a year ago, and today I looked 30 people in the eyes and told them we need Jesus. And I was filled with peace.
I’m going to ask you again.
What is God calling you to?
Is it that person?
Is it that place?
Is it that task?
I know it sounds unpleasant, and I know that it’s easy to evaluate our own abilities when we’re faced with difficulty. But what if we started to take God’s abilities into account instead? What if we really believed that He has the power to accomplish what He set out to do, and that He can use us in whatever way He sees fit?
What if our weakness doesn’t matter?
What does that change for you?
Until next time,