Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)
- The word that was probably used most to describe me when I was a child was “shy.”
- In high school I refused my guidance counselor’s advice to take speech class because I didn’t want to get up in front of my classmates and talk.
- My first semester at Purdue I worried about my botany grade not because I didn’t know the material but because each week we had an oral quiz in our recitation group of about 10 students.
I have always loved writing, but speaking? No so much. The solitude of writing, processing my thoughts and ideas to see what will emerge, crafting a sentence to say exactly what I want it to say—I treasure all these. I relish the challenge of writing to specifications—fitting a meditation for the Upper Room into the word limit or, in my previous life, tailoring a conference proposal to hit the mark. I had a very high success rate with both tasks.
However, the past few years, I’ve felt God occasionally calling me to move beyond writing: to preach at my church, to take a preaching class or two at the district lay servant academy, to speak at other churches, to work toward overcoming my fear of public speaking.
I have occasionally used Ephesians 3:20 as a benediction after preaching on the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. I believe in the scripture, yet I’m consistently surprised when I experience it firsthand! I’ve challenged myself to enter the laity manuscript contest of our annual conference for the last couple years-to overcome the fear of people assessing my writing—to live more BOLDLY! I’d gotten third place in 2016, and this year I won the contest writing about the fact that "together we are more."
However there was a catch. As Jeff likes to tell people, I won a writing contest where the winner’s prize is something most people avoid at all costs: speaking to several hundred people! When I first walked in to the room at annual conference I did feel a bit surprised and overwhelmed at the screens and video cameras. But once I stood up, I felt surprisingly relaxed. I felt as if God had placed me there, taken my fear, and done far more than I could ever imagine or guess or request in my wildest dreams.
How about you? Has God ever done far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams?