Just because you have the gift does not mean the work will be easy. I had a tough speaking gig yesterday. It rivaled any Sunday preaching assignment. In fact, this talk was one-third the length of a Sunday message with three times the pressure. The anxiety the night before was palpable. I was a conversational dud around the dinner table. Dark clouds of foreboding were already settling in on my soul. I slept poorly and wakened earlier than usual. I took a long walk to sort things out in my head and to do business with God in my heart. Then it was "game time!"
At 9:15 a.m. I took the stage. No, I wasn't addressing the United Nations. My audience was 532 students from Spanish River Christian School, ages 4 to 14.
You may be wondering, "What was the big deal?" The big deal was that I was out of my element! As much as I love our students and school, I am much more comfortable talking with adults than children. Besides, the learning gap between a four year-old and a fourteen year-old is as big as the Snake River Canyon. Evel Knievel attempted that kind of leap, and as I recall it went badly.
But yesterday, that was my assignment from God. So I went after it -- and had a blast! The message went out. We had a great time. God worked.
As I walked away from that event I started thinking: Why God? Why so much agony, angst, and anxiety over something I love so much? Teaching is one of the most energizing parts of my ministry, but I still get the jitters every time! Why? What I have come to understand is this: The gap between my gift level and my comfort level is where I see God's level of grace and strength. If it were all easy, I wouldn't rely on him. It would be my strength and not his strength, my impact and not his impact, my glory and not his glory. Paul's words to the Corinthian church come to mind:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)
Teaching and preaching wears me out. If I had my druthers I would much rather hole up in some quiet book-lined study. Just let me read and write! But I can't. I'd be burying my gift in the sand and I would be missing out on experiencing God. Yes, it is in that gap between my gift level and my comfort level where my weakness is most acute but God's power is most evident.