If I get butterflies before speaking in front of one audience, you should see what happens to my stomach when I think about speaking in front of eight audiences. And two radio programs. And one live morning TV show.
I’m prepping for a return visit to Fargo at the end of April. It started out as one invitation to speak about kindness at a church fundraiser. To keep travel costs down, I thought I’d see if I could book one or two more events in North Dakota. The next thing I know, I’m on a full-fledged speaking and media tour, with a few book-signings thrown in just for fun.
Studies show that most people fear public speaking more than death.
Not me, I love to speak. When I’m passionate about a message, there is nothing I’d rather do than share that message.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that there are still almost two weeks until I leave. It’s approaching quickly, but not quickly enough. I have 11 days to wonder if I’ve sufficiently prepared what I want to say. Eleven nights to lie in bed envisioning all the ways in which this could go terribly wrong.
Maybe you can’t relate to speaking or event planning, but I bet you have something in your life that likes to tickle at the back of your brain. My teacher friends wonder if the little ones they teach will actually leave their classroom equipped to deal with the next school year. My mom friends wonder if saying “no” to their teens will push them away farther. My married friends wonder if this person was truly their best yes.
We have lots to ponder. Lots of places to let our mind wander.
But we also have a God who anticipated the ways the enemy would try to disarm and distract us. That’s why God gave us an instruction manual.
This week’s memory verse comes from Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” (NLT)
If we keep our thoughts fixed on trusting God, He promises to give us peace; relief from the need to constantly wonder if everything is going to be okay!
All we have to do is turn those worries into words of prayer.
Late at night, when my heart starts racing because I’m afraid I don’t have anything interesting to say about kindness, I can replace that thought with this prayer: God, I’m trusting you to be there with me in Fargo, at every event, in every interaction, whispering what to say.
Or for my teacher friends… God, I’m trusting you to take the hours I have spent in the classroom with these kids and grow an understanding in their hearts and minds.
Or for our role as a parent… God, I know you love my teenager even more than I do. I’m trusting you take care of her when I can’t, to give me guidance to make decisions that will be best in the long run, and to give me endurance to continue being a loving parent.
Or for our spouses… God, I know you can fight for strong marriages in a way that I can’t. I’m trusting you to soften our hearts and help us to love each other in the way we used to.
Friends, will you try it for just one day? For one day, anytime an anxious, worried thought flitters through your mind, use it as a reminder to pray. Give it to God and let Him give you a peace that surpasses all understanding.