Not Bothered By the #1 Fear
When I was 5 years old, I stood in front of a crowd of people at a Word of Life camp and gave my testimony.
In my Sunday school class, I would climb on top of the table and tap dance to “lead” the other kids in the singing.
To say speaking in public isn’t a fear of mine is probably a vast understatement. So, when I agreed to teach a workshop at a teen conference, I wasn’t all that nervous about leading the workshop.
You’d probably be surprised then, to know that in the weeks leading up to the conference, I found myself getting more and more anxious. That’s the thing about the enemy – if he can’t get to you by coming in the front door, he’ll sneak in any available window.
The teen conference I was a part of – Converge 2017 – is this huge teen conference that is organized and put on by a local teen ministry Teens for Christ (you can find out more about them HERE). It included a couple wonderful speakers (Ben Stuart and Chip Dean), awesome worship bands, and a variety of workshops from which the kids can choose. Besides the teaching, kids also have an opportunity to serve. On Saturday afternoon, the teens gave away over 60,000 lbs of food at various drop sites and prayer walks where the kids were able to go door to door, passing out food and praying for area residents. It culminated with kids walking in from the north, south, east and west parts of the city to our town square for a time of prayer.
Can I just say, it was a pretty amazing site to see all these people praying in our town square – different races, different denominations, different social and economic circles, some from different states, even. For some, all they had in common was Jesus.
The event started Friday evening, ending around 11 p.m. Then it picked back up again early Saturday morning, and didn’t end until late Saturday night. I think I left the fieldhouse around 11:30 p.m.
When the Enemy Hits You From Behind
All that sounds great, right?
Well, to someone like me, this not only sounds awesome, but also completely exhausting. I’m a pretty low energy person, and events like these are always intimidating to me.
This is actually my third time attending Converge as a workshop leader, and every year, I have the same fear – that I just don’t have the energy to participate all day, both days.
This year was no different. As the date got nearer, I could feel my anxiety ratcheting up. Dread instead of excitement, started to fill me when I thought about the conference.
I started to hear doubts like, “Why do I do this to myself every year?” “I should probably say no next year.” “They have plenty of speakers – most better than me – so maybe I should just tell them I can’t do it this year.”
My anxiety was not helped by the fact that I got the sick about two weeks before the conference. I felt pretty crummy, and my plan to be prepared early took a major hit.
As I headed into the Monday before the conference, I wasn’t panicking but I was close. Not only did I have to deal with my normal low energy self, but now I had to deal with the tail end of illness and not being totally prepared.
As I prayed and prepared that week, I found myself whining to God. “You know I can’t do this. I don’t feel prepared, and I don’t feel that great. I just don’t have what it takes to do this.”
It was at this moment, that I felt God gently saying, “It’s not about what you can do; it’s about what I can do. It’s not about your strength; it’s about mine. It’s not about your ability; it’s about mine.”
Talk about being convicted. I was getting ready to teach about God’s goodness and generosity and how He is always for us, yet, I neglected to apply it to my own daily life.
Making a commitment
So, I made a commitment to God that I was going to show up and then trust Him to take care of the rest – including my ability to keep up.
And you know what? This was my best Converge experience yet. Yes, I didn’t get enough sleep Friday night. Yes, I did find myself hitting a bit of a wall energy-wise around 7 p.m. Saturday evening. But I made it all the way to the end.
There were several times during the day when I was tempted to opt out, at least for a little while. However, God kept nudging me to not quit.
My word for this year is “Contend.” The thing is, I tend to be a quitter. I don’t like doing hard stuff, and often if something seems too hard, I don’t even start.
God has been teaching me over and over this year that with His help, I really can do all the things He asks me to. Fear has been such a stronghold in my life in so many ways over the years. Yet, God has faithfully been breaking those strongholds one at a time.
“I sought the Lord and He answered me, and He delivered me from all my fears.” ~ Psalms 34:4
This year was the best Converge I’ve attended. A big reason for that was because I made the commitment to be present through the whole thing. I chose not opt out when I got tired or weary.
From being able to watch my son step up on the prayer walk and pray with people and be a leader, to sharing a God’s message in my workshops, to being able to pray and be there for teenagers I know and care about during prayer time at the very end, God blessed my socks off from start to finish.
I would have missed all that if I hadn’t chosen to trust God and commit to be present. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did!
What thing is God asking you to do that seems too hard? Where does He want you to be present that seems impossible? I’d love to hear about it!