We all get it. When you really, really, really want to say something, then you bottle it and keep it inside.
During our Sunday evening services at my church, we sometimes hold times of open worship. I love God with all my heart, I’m so beyond grateful to him for everything and everyone in my life, I can’t even begin to type/write/say the words for what it means to me that he gave his only son to save me. His perfect and amazing and blameless son, for me… a deeply flawed, sinful person. Amazing.
In the comfort of my own home, I pray, I worship my creator. But open worship? I wish I could contribute, I pray for the courage, but it just doesn’t come.
But today, this evening… things were a little bit different.
Usually when whoever is leading the service opens the time of open worship I look at my bible in the fear it might turn into the ‘Monster Book of Monsters’ from Harry Potter and try to bite my arm off. I want so badly to share my love of the Lord, but I just… fail.
But today, the leader said something along the lines of “don’t do what I do, I think of a passage that I want to share and I think I’ll wait a minute then the time has passed and I’ve missed my chance”. I felt like it wasn’t the leader speaking to the congregation… it was God speaking to me. I had a passage that had touched me this week, and I’d already shared it on Facebook and Twitter.
I found it on my bible app on my iPad and stared at it. Two verses. That’s all. Two verses. Did I want to pray after it too? Did I want to tell God how amazing he is, and how awestruck I am that he sent us such an amazing gift? Of course I did. But could I do it?
My heart started racing and I thought ‘I can’t, I’m not ready!’… A thought that had already raced through my mind today, and the first time was stood in front of the entire morning congregation. A whole load more people and this time their eyes weren’t on me.
This morning, I was asked to play the part of Mary in a little radio broadcast skit with 2 of the elders from our church. I was to tell my side of the story from Mark 14:1-11. This story tells of a time when Jesus was feasting with his disciples and others. During the feast, Mary breaks a bottle of perfumed oil worth a year’s salary over Jesus. The guests rebuked her and suggested instead of wasting the money on perfume to pour over Jesus, she should have given the money to the poor. But Jesus said that the gift was appropriate because he was only with them for a short time longer.
The three of us rehearsed our little thing before the service, but as soon as I stood at the front and realised everyone was actually listening to me, I kind of freaked out. I tripped over my words and failed in general. But the last part, the part that summarises how I feel about Jesus, let alone how Mary felt, I managed to say perfectly. But I think that was the Holy Spirit more than me:
“Jesus deserves the gift I gave to Him and so much more. We don’t deserve anything from God but He gave His only son to come here to this planet. Jesus gave His life as a gift to us. He spent His life teaching us about God. He allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Then, He came back here to show us that we did not have to be afraid of death anymore. Talk about a gift! Best of all, Jesus said it was free to anyone who would accept it.”
Amazing words which came back to me when I was sat in the evening service staring at John 3:16-18. Then one of the other members of the congregation prayed, and I felt myself filling with the confidence to say the words and to say a short prayer. So when the other member’s prayer finished with a resounding ‘amen!’ (it was a great prayer) I found the courage to say these words:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Of course, I stumbled through it, and the prayer afterwards was jumbled and crazy. But I did it. I feel such a huge sense of achievement and so proud of God’s work in me tonight. I do freak out about public speaking, but I also knew tonight was the night. I have been reading through the book of John this week and those verses were part of my reading on Friday and they are still lingering over me. I wanted to share them, and God wanted me to as well.
It was a very shaky first attempt at contributing to open worship, but it was a first attempt. I really want to share my love and awe of our God, but I struggle to find the words. I can just hope that tonight was just the start and I build in my confidence to speak out again during open worship.