I admire people who are so eloquent. Words flow gracefully off their lips. They never stumble and speak so clearly and effortlessly.
I am NOT this type of person. My head is full of words, but something happens between my head and my mouth. I love to write, but not so much speaking aloud. So I miss opportunities to share words God ordained for me to speak to specific people in specific situations.
A route I often walk passes in front of a hospital on the river by my house. Because of the beautiful setting, many hospital visitors step outside for fresh air and a view of the sun glistening on the the water. Some are sitting with their heads hung low. Some are taking a smoke break. Some are staring off into the horizon. Many naturally look worn out and distressed. Heavy eyes and heavy hearts as they visit loved ones in need of any manner of medical care. I quietly pray as I walk by. Countless times God has nudged me to stop and ask someone if I can pray for them. But I have never done it. Not once. My fear of saying the wrong thing keeps me from saying anything. And I miss out. Someone in need misses out on a word God has for them. Ugh.
Promises like this one in Luke that, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom,” are powerful. These words come on the heels of Jesus telling of persecution that will come; delivering of His followers to the synagogues, prisons, and before kings and governors. Jesus tells them THIS will be their opportunity to bear witness.
In our daily lives we likely aren’t persecuted or brought before powerful leaders in public squares, but we do have our own “court rooms” to bear witness…our friend circles, our work places, our dorm rooms, the classroom, the playing field, the mom’s group, even crossing paths with strangers in front of a hospital while on a walk. We are given many opportunities to bear witness, or even just to provide a word of prayer and encouragement.
Jesus tells them, “Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer.”
Because words don’t easily come out of my mouth, I am an over-preparer if I do have to speak. These words of Jesus, while comforting, on the one hand, are frightening on the other. Why? It requires giving up control (as if I even had any!); giving up worry and anxiety about how I will sound and be received…basically, it rubs against my ego and pride.
It isn’t a call to be unprepared or uneducated in the Word – quite the contrary. It is a call to be armed with truth and faith, but not with fear or anxiety over how the truths will come out of our mouth. To let the Holy Spirit bring to mind what needs to be said. John Piper says, “The words of Christ are the raw materials that the Holy Spirit works with as he teaches us what to say.” It isn’t fearful rehearsing, but rather lifelong preparation. Perfectly scripted human preparation is greatly inferior to divine inspiration.
I flipped through many accounts of faithful people who allowed the Spirit to speak through them. Acts is full of examples, and the powerful words of the Spirit continue today. A common theme is that allowing the Spirit to give us words doesn’t mean we won’t fumble those words, wish we had said something better after the fact, or not put our foot in our mouth. It also doesn’t guarantee human success or the outcome we desire. Because it isn’t about us and how we look; it is about God working in us for the recipient and His glory.
Today I am praying for courage to release my fear, pride, and insecurities over speaking and allow the Holy Spirit to bring words and wisdom to my mouth when He calls me to speak. And then to rest in the fact that God uses it all – however awkward and ineloquent – for His sweet purposes and plans.
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