Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Facing my Fears

My granddaughter triumphantly announced to me recently, “Nanna, I faced my fears!”
Well, I was reminded of a time I had to face my fears.

The year was 1979 and I had just recently surrendered to the Lord and walking my daily life in obedience to Him was a new and exciting experience. I have always found it hard to say “No” when I am asked to do anything, and at that time being aware of how easy it was to overextend myself, I asked Him if He would please, until I was more mature in hearing His voice, not let anyone ask me to do something that He was not asking me to do.

Shortly thereafter, I was approached by someone from my church who asked if I would teach the ‘Children’s Time’ before the sermon Sunday morning. It only needed to be a few minutes long, but it was in front of the whole church.
It has been proven that public speaking is the #1 fear of people and when the question was put to me , my heart lurched and I wanted to say , “I can’t” but I remembered my promise and without any cognitive permission my mouth opened and said “Yes”.
Horrors!!! Whatever had I got myself into!
Part of me was excited that maybe the Lord had counted me worth to do something for Him …. but that was a very small part that was completely buried under the over whelming waves of nauseous fear that robbed me of my joy and my sleep for the next two weeks.

In the first place I had no idea what I would use as material for my talk. I searched through any books I could find but nothing appealed to me. There was a whisper in the back of my mind that I tried to ignore, but it became more insistent …. suggesting I write my own little story lesson. I had never done anything like that before - I couldn’t possibly.

Finally, having exhausted all other avenues, I allowed my mind to wander…. If I DID write my own lesson what would it be??
“ Lord? What should I talk about?” An idea came into my mind. It was toward the end of summer and the children would soon be thinking of going back to school. I thought about the anxiety that some of them might be feeling, perhaps it might be a new situation for them, a new classroom , having to face making new friends , feeling lonely and scared. A little story began to form in my mind….. and the climax of the story was that the best friend any of them could have was Jesus…. and when they were scared or lonely all they had to do was lift up their hands and Jesus would take their little hand in His. He would be right there!!!

At the time these thoughts were going through my mind , I was sitting alone in the car waiting for Vic to run an errand. The radio was on but I had completely tuned it out, until in my mind’s eye I envisioned the children all lifting their hands to grasp Jesus’ hand as their Friend. At that exact moment, the radio speaker's voice broke into my thoughts with the words…. “What are you reaching for? You will get what you are reaching for.”
I was stunned, and the goose bumps rose up on my arms. What were the chances?? It had to be God…No one else knew what I had just been thinking!!!
So now I had a story, and some confidence that it was from the Lord, but I still had to deal with my fear of presenting it. I knew that as soon as I stood up in front of all those people my mind would go completely blank and I would not be able to think of one word of my story. Perhaps I could just read it…The answer was so firm I was startled, “NO!” Not read it? Maybe notes at least? “NO!”
Now I was petrified, with good reason. Several times in the past , in moments of stress my mind had just gone completely blank. One occasion was when I was 16 and went to get write my driver’s test. I was so nervous I forgot my name. Honest!
Finally I remembered my father’s name and then I remembered what he called me but I never did remember more than my abbreviated first name… and for years my driver’s licence did not have my full name on it because I was too embarrassed to go back and correct it. How do you tell someone…”Oh , excuse me, I remember my name now, could you please correct it on my license” ?
I just knew it would happen again and this time in front of all those people.
What to do?
I was so afraid that I would make a fool of myself and dishonour the Lord. Instead of serving Him, I would fail and disappoint Him.
Then one morning I was bushing my hair and the thought came to me…. God knows all things. He knows the future as well as the past . He already knows exactly what I am going to do Sunday morning. He knows whether or not I will make a fool of myself, but He asked me to do it anyway…and the question presented itself…”If God wants you to make a fool of yourself- would you do it?” Well, yes , of course if for some reason He can use that , either in my life or someone else’s , yes , I would be willing to do that.
Well, that helped… I calmed down a little…
That Sunday morning, I went through the motions of getting ready for church… but my fearful heart cried out continuously for God to help me… help me…!

The dreaded moment came when I was introduced and the children all ran to the front of the church. To my relief at least I had my back to most of the adults and I looked into the upturned faces of the children seated on the floor in front of me.
With one last desperate plea for help, I opened my mouth and to my amazement words came out. I remembered…I told the story…. and then the children all raised their hands toward Jesus.
It was over… I had done it….Thank-you !! thank-you !! Lord!
I turned to go back to my seat… and was surprised to see tears in the eyes of some of the adults .
After the church service I a man come up to me whom I did not know and he said that they had just moved into the area and their children would be attending a new school , that my story was very timely and he was sure had been encouraging to them.

Typing out this experience brought back with clarity the anxiety of those two weeks, but I typed with a smile - it seems almost silly now that I was so fearful at the time. I have since stood many times in front of audiences with little more than normal nervousness .
But I will never forget that experience because it taught me that when God asks me to do something , He will enable me to do it.
And no matter how afraid I am , I can trust His strength to be perfected in my weakness! ( II Cor. 12:9)
And it also made me realize that all I am responsible for is obedience - the results are in God's hands.
And I am not to be concerned with what man will think of me, if God can use me making a fool of myself then, so be it. It is Him I serve and not man.

That experience, far from being the one time thing I had hoped it would be , was the door that opened up into years of teaching that I have enjoyed so much.

One of my favorite verses ( I have so many!) is I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.”

1 comment:

Lovella said...

Julie, that is so interesting. I would have never guessed that you struggled with that. I am so glad that the Lord helped you to overcome that. I can't imagine the gifts you were given being wasted. Wonderful lesson.