Let me explain. I actually enjoy public speaking. Give me a topic and a little time to prepare, and I don't mind getting up and teaching. (I blame my mother who made me give a testimony in church every time I went on a missions trip or worked at camp or taught a children's class!) I've taught children and teens in Sunday school for years, and I've given devotionals at women's meetings. In college, Speech 101 was a really enjoyable class for me. I love communicating something to an audience and watching them understand it! Besides, there are only about seven women in our Bible study group, so it's hardly something that would normally intimidate me.
However, this Bible study is different from what I've done before. We're doing a study through Neil Anderson's Victory Over the Darkness about knowing and believing the truth of who we are in Christ and how that will work itself out in our lives. We're reading a chapter a week and then discussing it in class. So leading the group is more about facilitating discussion, which is something I've never done before! More than that, though, the leader of the group is a woman whom God has brought through many difficult life experiences. She has a joy and a love for God that is infectious, and she has a lot of wisdom to share. She can say, "I've been there, and this is how God brought me through." Our little group has learned so much from her! Next to her, I feel very inadequate, like I don't have much to offer. I began to worry that I wouldn't know what to say if people asked questions. And I didn't feel like I had much life experience to fall back on.
I was telling the Lord all of this and arguing with him that this was something I just didn't think I could do. And it was like the Holy Spirit said to me, "It's not about you; it's about Me." He reminded me that just as my daily Christian walk is not something I do in my own strength, so this specific task would not be accomplished in my own strength. He merely wanted me to be open and let him speak through me. I'm probably taking it out of context, but I was reminded of how Jesus told his disciples not to worry about what to say when they were hauled before authorities.
Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you (Matthew 10:19-20).Today when I headed for the church to lead the Bible study, my stomach was in knots. I was more nervous than I can remember being in a long time. The idea of not having a prepared speech to fall back on terrified me! I had read the chapter and highlighted sections that stood out to me, but I had no notes, no carefully prepared illustrations, no summarizing remarks. But once we began, my nerves began to melt away, and I really felt the Holy Spirit's presence. He brought things to my mind that I never would have thought of sharing--stories from my childhood, things I learned in college, passages of Scripture. Eventually our discussion veered a bit from the chapter we were discussing, but even that felt like God's leading. We had a great time of encouraging each other in the Lord and through his Word.
It was an exciting day for me as God once again brought me to the end of myself so that I would learn to more fully rely on him. He is so gracious to teach me this again and again!