February 17, 2010

Stretching Our Faith

2010 1505 6 capHE FRIGID TEMPERATURES AND RECORD SNOWFALLS WE’VE BEEN experiencing in the U.S. this year have reminded me of winters during my childhood in Canada and early years of marriage in Michigan. One episode in particular comes to mind.
My husband, young daughter, and I were living in a small country home that Sunday afternoon in January when my church’s Sabbath school superintendent called. She asked if I would share with the church members the following Sabbath how I witness for Jesus on a day-to-day basis. Several ideas came to mind, so I said yes—but I soon regretted my positive response.
I was one of those people who in surveys rank the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of disease and even death. My nervousness was evident, so I had decided to leave those duties to others. I wanted to call the superintendent back and tell her I misspoke—that I really meant to say no. But even though I generally don’t feel guilty saying no to something I’m uncomfortable doing, once I say yes, I hate to back out. So I told myself that if I prepared well, maybe I could do this. After all, I thought, if I can’t talk about my love for Jesus and His blessings in my life in front of my own church family, how will I ever be able to witness during difficult times?
2010 1505 6I began putting thoughts to paper and practiced my talk in front of the mirror—but it wasn’t going well. I got nervous just thinking about it. Then, on Thursday, a thought came to me. That week we’d been hit particularly hard with snowstorms. Wednesday morning we’d been snowed in, and the road in front of our house, as usual, had not been plowed until the afternoon.
Thursday morning was the same. Because of snow and high winds, our driveway was leveled again. The meteorologist was predicting the same for the next three days. On Sabbath morning we’ll be snowed in and our road won’t be plowed, so we won’t be able to get out of the driveway, I thought. This is an answer to prayer!
All day Thursday the snow continued to fall. Snowplows arrived late afternoon. Friday was the same, and the meteorologist assured that snow and high winds were to continue throughout the weekend. So I went to bed feeling confident my problem was resolved.
The next morning I awoke and dashed to the window—and what did I see? A clear driveway and an open road. My heart sank! Our Lord undoubtedly has a sense of humor.
There was nothing else to do but get ready and head to church. I was extremely nervous, but I took my seat on the platform and waited for my turn to speak. The hymns were sung, the prayer was said, and I was introduced. I stood up, said a last quick prayer, and looked out at the congregation. Then it happened—every bit of nervousness I felt left me and was replaced with confidence that the Lord was with me and was going to help me. I started speaking, and the words just flowed. It was a miracle.
I realize this seems like a little thing, but to me it was big. I recognized that God was able to use even the weakest of His children to witness for Him. Since then, even though public speaking is still not one of my strengths, my growing trust in God has helped me do numerous presentations and worship talks with my anxieties controlled by His grace.
When God asks us to do something for Him, He will help us accomplish the task. Every request made of us doesn’t come from God, but sometimes the Lord asks us to “stretch” a bit—not only our faith but our talents. With faith—and a little practice—we often are capable of doing more than we think we can. 
Sandra Blackmer is an assistant editor of the Adventist Review. This article was published February 18, 2010.