All through school, from first grade through college, I hated having to speak in front of an audience. Then, I went into ministry where I have stood before a congregation nearly every week for the past 32 years.
It doesn't matter if I'm speaking to a handful of people or thousands, I still get nervous if I am in a new environment. My hands grow numb and cold, my heart rate increases, I get short of breath, and feel like I could faint dead on the spot! Every time I feel that anxiety begin, I use it for an opportunity for prayer while reminding myself that it's not about me. I am weak, God is strong. I am insufficient, He is all-sufficient.
Yesterday, was one of those days. I was driving across town to speak at a Christian school's weekly chapel service. While researching the school a bit online, I had come across a statistic for South Carolina's private schools and found that I was on my way to speak at the state's largest private school (school's entrance is pictured above). I assure you that no pride rose up in me at that point, only fear. So, as I drove, I prayed asking God for peace in my heart and mind, for clarity of thought, and mostly that he would speak to the students through me. As I flipped on the radio hoping for some soothing Christian music, they were in the middle of a break from music and I had to endure several minutes of blah, blah, blah. This church is having the event, this other church wants you to come hear this singer, on and on.
Finally, a song came on, and tears came as Matthew West started singing a song that I had only vaguely heard before. Oh, I knew that catchy hook lines, but had never actually listened to the song all the way through. He sang,
You must, You must think I'm strong
To give me what I'm going through
Well, forgive me, Forgive me if I'm wrong
But this looks like more than I can do on my own.
I couldn't believe they were playing what my heart was crying!
I know I'm not strong enough to be everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up, I'm not stong enough
Hands of mercy won't you cover me
Lord right now I'm asking you to be strong enough, strong enough
For the both of us
Then I realized this wasn't just a "right now" song, this was really the song of my life. Matthew and my heart kept singing.
Cause I'm broken, down to nothing
But I'm still holding on to the one thing
You are God, and you are strong when I am weak
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength
And I don't have to be strong enough.
I suspect that the next time I stand in front of a new crowd, I will still feel weak and less than able. But, I'm ok with that. The only reason I am ever standing on two feet is because Jesus is holding me up. Works for me.