"By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you-I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away!" (2 Corinthians 10:1)
"Janet, please come to the platform."
I got up out of my seat; my knees felt like overcooked spaghetti noodleslimp and mushy. Carefully walking to the front, a sweat broke out on my brow and my chest began to tightenI couldn't catch my breath. Dropping my notes on the way up the steps, I leaned over to pick them up and passed out cold.
That ugly emotion literally paralyzed mefear of being in front of a group of people, fear of every eye in the room on me, fear of being judged, fear of making a mistake, fear of people laughing at me, fear of stumbling over my words, fear of failing to accomplish the task, fear of the sound of my own voice. Fear literally choked me that morning over 40 years ago.
But, put a pen in my hand and a piece of paper in front of me and I was in my element. Better yet, bring me a typewriter and I could whip out an article or story or letter to anyone in a matter of minutes. Communication with the written word was as natural for me as talking was for most others.
Years have come and gone. Fear looms and lurks around corners waiting to trap me, but I'm wise to that old device. In an effort to defy old man fear, I have purposely allowed myself to be put in situations where I had to speak, not only in front of a ninth grade class, but in front of thousands.
When I came across 2 Corinthians 10:1, I understood all too well what Paul was saying. Today it is still much easier for me to communicate through writing. But I won't let the enemy intimidate me with fear when it comes to speaking. As with Paul, sometimes I may appear "timid" when speaking face-to-face, now it is the gentleness and mercy of Christ speaking through me, not fearful timidity. My newfound "boldness" to speak openly is based on the authority I have as a believer communicating the Word of God.
Do I still struggle with fear before a crowd? Only if I take my eyes off Christ and put them on the circumstance. But when I'm speaking to one or thousands, if my eyes are on Christ and I am acting as His spokesperson, what have I to fear?
The life of Paul continues to amaze me as I study. He's such a "normal" man with real issues that were overcome as Christ in him become more and he became less. I'd be willing to admit I'd like to be like Paul, but my true goal is to be like Jesus who is the reason Paul became such a powerful influence in the early church.
Nope I don't want to emulate Paul, I choose to be a reflection of Christ as His image is perfected in me for His glory and His alone.
Jan Ross 2007
Jan Ross, President and Co-Founder of Heart of God International Ministries, is a passionate and outspoken defender of the Word of Truth and the Great Commission. http://heartofgodinternational.com. For more devotional material by Jan, please take a moment to visit www.hgdevotions.com.
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