I stood in front of the class my knees shaking, I could see little white dots in my peripheral vision. I gripped the podium with both hands and spoke, “Rape by Kathleen Craven,”
A quick rat-a-tat spattering of laughter shot across the classroom. I hadn’t thought through saying the title of my speech followed by my name. I was a senior in honors English, giving a speech was required. I had used the same topic as the research paper I had just completed and quickly found saying what I had researched out loud had a terrifying feel to it. The research was fun to me. I relished being in the library pouring over books and magazines and filling lots of note cards. I took those note cards home and played around with them, building a web on the floor until I had the outline the way I liked it, then I wrote it. All of the research and writing activities fit perfectly with my introverted, creative personality. The speech didn’t fit with my personality at all.
Speaking in or to people was my weakness. I didn’t ever plan to do it again after college. I planned to teach children, not speak in front of adults. These children would be strangers to me at first, then they would love me and my creative bent.
Turns out, that is not what the Lord had in mind. I didn’t get the room full of children I didn’t know. I got the room full of children I did know, my own. I stood in front of them that first day of homeschooling, my knees shaking, wondering what the right thing to say was. Should I start with prayer and the pledge like a brick and mortar school. Should I be firm? Should I sing?
No one gave me a set of instructions for that first day of school nor any following. I was speaking to a tough crowd, one child who had spent some time in public school constantly reminded me, “that’s not how my teacher said it.” My weakness brought forth once again. Who was I to stand up and teach these little ones. Just give me a cup of coffee and a library with some great resource materials and let me bury myself.
That was not to be. My confidence grew as God showed up in the midst of my weakness. I taught those children with confidence (most of the time) and rebuffed those words (verbal or otherwise) and kept speaking when I needed to.
A few years into my homeschooling journey, I started a co-op with a few other families and suddenly, I was speaking in front of adults. The group grew and so did the number of times I had to walk out in my weakness. This was followed by presenting workshops at the CHEWV conference, leading a woman’s Bible study, founding an adoption support group and hosting a Mom’s Tea (and the list goes on), all activities in which I have to stand in front of a group of people and speak.
The truth is, God is going to take our weakness and work through it so He is is glorified. He does give us a dream, a vision that is something we could never accomplish in our own strength. He doesn’t want us to. We quote the verse I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me as if it is a mantra to conquer all, but skip the verses about abasing and abounding. We can do whatever God has called us to do whether we are weak in that area or not.
But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!- 2 Corinthians 12:9
This idea that God will only use our strengths to accomplish His goals is false. He will use both our strengths and weaknesses. My strength in research and writing has helped me organize and have a well drafted speech to look at when my knees are shaking whether I am speaking to children or adults.
If you are in a situation right now that you think you can’t handle. If your weakness is oozing out of every fiber of your being, take heart. It’s not the end. It is the beginning of a road to success on God’s terms, not yours. It is Him who will make your paths straight. It is Him who put you on the road you are now traversing. He will not leave you nor forsake you. He will not. He will not relax His hold on you. Assuredly not. Give Him your weakness and give Him the glory when It is perfected in His power and shown effective.
Linking up with Kristin Hill Taylor for Three Word Wednesday! Join us!