Wednesday, July 18, 2012

But Dust

I’m two different people. I’m the person who rises to a challenge. If someone says, “you can’t” that automatically means, “try it.” “Don’t” is the best way to get me to “Do.”

Then, I’m the person who’s own worst enemy is self. I’ve pushed myself beyond my limits and failed miserably. As a result, I’d love to wrap myself in the comfortable and the easy and stay safe and warm with nothing to bother or scare me. Feelings of embarrassment that come from moments of vulnerability or weakness are in my Top 10 Biggest Fears category.

Last week, I did a short gospel presentation in Spanish. Sounds simple enough. When the rest of the team was using a translator, I noticed that we would lose the attention of the kids who were sitting in the grass as the Americanos who’d played basket ball with them hunkered down for a serious moment to tell the story of Joseph and go over memory verses.

So, when the English was on and I saw the kids begin to pick at one another and roll in the grass, I determined that I would try and do my whole devotional in Spanish. Without a translator.

Once I had the idea, I knew I wouldn’t back down. I wouldn’t let myself. It was a challenge and I would rise to it.

Then the fears assailed. One hundred things went through my head in the few days leading up to it. Phrases like, “You’re only doing this to show off,” or  “You’re only doing this to practice your Spanish, you don’t really care about presenting the gospel to the kids” sounded like sirens as I mulled over the presentation and jotted down ideas for what I was going to say.

The worst part about these voices in my head was they were all saying the truth. For that reason I was sure I would fail.

As I prepared, a moment from my teen years began to surface from my suppressed memories. I was taking piano around the time the movie “The Patriot” came out in theaters. I thought Heath Ledger was a hunk and I loved the soundtrack to the movie so I decided that I would play the theme song for my piano recital.

I don’t know if my piano teacher tried to talk me out of it. I kind of wish she would have. It was far beyond my skill level and I botched the entire thing. I don’t think anyone even clapped when I was finished.

This memory returned to haunt me as I attempted, once again, something that was beyond my skill level.

On top of knowing that I was undeserving of help, I also assumed this would be a perfect opportunity for God to show up and perform a miracle that involved me speaking in tongues.

Like I said at the beginning, I’m two different people.

On that morning, when I stood in front of the kids, asking them questions to lead into the presentation, I thought things were going well. Then I looked down and saw that my hands were shaking. The fumbling began and the rest of the presentation was unpolished and fragile.

When it was over, no children rushed forward to ask for more information. Only one team member made the effort to tell me that I did well, while the rest said nothing.

It was the sort of moment of weakness that I usually try to avoid. At one time, I might have seen this episode as a type of failure. But instead, it reminded me of this thing about God that I love so much it makes me ache.

I love how He takes weakness and turns it into an opportunity to display His strength. I love how He takes the impossible and creates possible. I love how He chooses to use those who don’t deserve His mercy or His grace as a vessel for displaying that same mercy and grace to His world.

I love how He takes our failures and our “but dust” physiques to show us who we are and how much we can do nothing of ourselves. And, through Christ, we can do all things.  

1 comment:

  1. It's funny that I don't remember you doing poorly on your piano recital. It makes me realize the need to go forward and say something to a speaker or musician after they finish. I think most people are like me in that they don't compliment freely enough. I know I'm quick to criticize (not to someone's face....except maybe my children!!)but I'm not as quick to show gratitude and appreciation. I am working on this. Do you have your talk interpreted in English so I could read it? I love you and know you are being too hard on yourself. I guess in instances like that one the verse I must decrease so He can increase, comes to mind. May the Lord be glorified, even if we don't "see" it!