With heart pounding in my chest, mouth dry as a bone, and drowning in absolute fear, I stuttered out the words, “Vote… for… Elizabeth… Carter.” Embarrassed, ashamed, and defeated, I scurried off the stage, whispering, and “I’ll never speak in public again!” High school freshmen can be pretty brutal. Walking the halls of the school for the next three days confirmed my vow about speaking publically. “Not gonna happen,” I said.
That is why, back in 2001, when the Lord first called me to write and teach, the answer was a resounding NO! Lord, I can’t do that!” However, our Mighty God has a great sense of humor! In the years since that call He has sent us in a direction we never dreamed possible, to speak to groups of two to two thousand, across six countries.
You would think that by this time I wouldn’t be afraid to speak anywhere. Mostly that’s true, because this heart is fully aware that the Lord gives the message and the passion with which to share it.
Then, THE call came.
Brenda, this is Kay DeBerry. From Roanoke Rapids. We graduated high school together and I’ve seen you on FaceBook and read about your ministry. I’d love to go with you to Nicaragua, and our church would like you to come and… SPEAK… and share your message with us. We’d like you to…SPEAK… and tell us all about your missions work.
With heart pounding, the fear returned. Just like it was yesterday, condemnation screamed from within. Seeing the side-ways glances of pity, and hearing the ugly thunder of laughter, it was 1964 all over again.
“No!” I wanted to scream. “No, I can’t do that,” I wanted to say. However, God wouldn’t let me. More than the fear of failure, this heart’s desire is to share God’s message of redemption and family restoration with anyone wanting to hear it. “Of course, we’d love to”, the words escaped through determined lips.
I’d love to tell you that fear and apprehension went away after hanging up that phone, but it would be a lie. In the weeks since that phone call, excitement, fear, apprehension, and dread have played volleyball in my head. Practically sucking my thumb, I’ve complained to the Lord, “Don’t You remember the humiliation? Seriously, of all places, Roanoke Rapids?” In response to those complaints, He has said absolutely nothing.
During quiet time this morning, He reminded me to focus on Jesus instead of ghosts from the past. He brought back to memory Hebrews 12:1-2, a message we shared with 150 pastor’s wives, just three short weeks ago.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”
Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that without faith it is impossible to please God. More than anything else, in this life I want to please God. Therefore, these eyes need to focus on Him, and this heart needs to have faith in Him. As usual, whatever success comes will be by His Spirit, not any human efforts, likely to fall short. That’s ok. He knew that already. He said so in I Corinthians 1:25-29 (NIV)
25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,29 so that no one may boast before him.
Well, that certainly describes me. So, if the message resonates with old friends, He will be the One that speaks to their hearts. My responsibility is to move forward in faith, trusting Him to deliver.
What are the ghosts from your past that threaten to rob you of your future? Let God put them behind you and give you freedom. Together let’s cling to the promise He gives us in I Corinthians 15:58,
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable.
Always work enthusiastically for the Lord,
for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
And in I Thessalonians 5:23,
The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.
That is His promise. So together, let’s allow Him wipe away our failures with His successes!
Until Next Time,
Your Traveling Partner,