I’ve had the opportunity to lead devotionals at our office for the month of April. Let’s be honest- at the beginning of April, I would not have called this an opportunity. I would have called it a punishment or a chore.
Each month, a different department leads the office through a study of a spiritual discipline. April was church mobilization’s month for devotional, and we focused on the practice of prayer. Unlike other departments that have 6 or 7 staff members, it’s just me and my boss Pastor Juan Carlos. If you’re doing the math, that means I was tasked with leading devotional half of the time.
If you know me, you know I absolutely abhor public speaking. I will do almost anything to get out of it. Writing and speaking are at opposite ends of the spectrum for me- one is confidence-building, emotional-processing and life-giving, another is characterized by panic attacks, self-doubt, and borderline existential crisis.
So as the month of April drew closer, my fear and anxiety multiplied. I wrote most of my devotional talks weeks before just to make sure I had it exactly as I wanted it and had ample time to prepare.
Oh, did I mention that this was also done entirely in Spanish? So you can multiply my anxiety by 10. I’m already anxious enough speaking in my own language, so you can imagine the terror I felt having to speak to a large group of the most brilliant minds in Bolivia, not in my native language.
The day finally came for me to lead devotional. Let’s just be completely candid here- I definitely took my anxiety medicine before our meeting. That’s how nervous I was. And the thought that I had to do this 10 more times was not much of a comfort.
I don’t really remember much from that first day of devotional (tunnel vision is a real thing, and usually leads to short-term memory loss of any speaking I do), but I can tell you that that was the day I started leaning into this challenge that God had given to me. My hands and voice were probably shaking, I most likely forgot to breathe once or twice, and maybe messed up a couple of words in Spanish. But, I was given this incredible opportunity to share a message that I believe was Spirit-led with my coworkers. I started intentionally thanking God for this opportunity to be challenged and grow.
God was having a lot of fun with me this month. Unfortunately, my boss was sick a lot, so that meant I had to take over devotionals more than half of the days. But as time went on, I stopped reaching for my anxiety medicine. My hands stilled. My voice slowed with an assurance that only the Spirit can bring. The tunnel vision subsided and I could really see into people as I spoke to them about prayer.
I’m not going to say that God worked a miracle and now I’ve found my calling in public speaking. That would be so far from the truth. Public speaking is still and will probably always be a challenge for me. But, I have come to a place where I am thankful for this challenge.
I don’t ever want to reach a point in my life where I sit back and say, “Well, I’ve made it. I’ve mastered it all. There is nothing else for me to learn or grow in.” I want to always be aware of my own humanity- my ignorance, inability, and weakness. I want to know that God is god, and I am not. I want Him to reign over me, taking me to places that scare the heck out of me. Moments where I may have tunnel vision, shaky hands, and an uncertain voice.
It’s only when we allow Him to take us to those places, to engage in the challenge, to be present in the struggle, when we witness Him transforming us for His purposes. In those places I feel fearless and invincible not because of my own power, but wholly because of who He is. Because it is in those moments that I get to fully experience His provision. I’ll take the shaky hands any day for that.