Pushing Past the Safety Net
I was nervous. No, I was terrified. It was my first time preaching and although I had practiced exhaustively the week before, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience. My forehead and palms were sweaty, my mind was scrambling, my knees were weak and I could not remember a single line from my sermon. There I was, frozen with fear before my home church. These were people who had watched me grow up and were eagerly looking on with encouraging smiles, but that did not help. I was drowning in thoughts of doubt. The butterflies in my stomach urged me to run, but I knew I could not quit because I had promised to preach.
Despite the panic, I started my sermon. My lips seemed to be moving, and I heard words coming out of my mouth, but I had no idea what I was talking about. Not even 10 minutes into the sermon, I knew I could not go on. My voice quivered and without warning I started crying uncontrollably. I managed to whisper, “Sorry, I cannot continue” and quickly looked for an exit off the platform. As I sat down in the pews, my hands shook and heart raced, and I knew I had made a fool of myself. I was humiliated and felt even worse because I had let people down.
As I look back at that experience, I cannot help but chuckle. Fear has a very interesting way of gripping us. It is definitely much easier to stay in our comfort zones and not have to face the things that scare us or make us uncomfortable. Yet, the words of 2 Timothy 1:7 give us hope and encouragement by stating, “for God gave us a spirit NOT of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I admit, Satan still reminds me of this incident and often tries to fill me with insecurity before I preach. However, I have learned that to overcome fear we have to take some important steps. Recognize the fear, trust God, and leave it in His hands. Sound too easy? It is. By following these steps, we will not only challenge ourselves, we will allow God to work in us and through us. In the process, we may even have the opportunity to make an impact and change lives. The choice is ours: we can either let our fears overwhelm us or we can choose to confront our fears, step out in faith, and grow. We can also experience first-hand the true peace that only God has to offer when we completely surrender all our fears to Him.