Eighteen years ago I stood on the pitcher’s mound at the old Milwaukee Brewers stadium. I was wearing a headset that was streaming the Beatles into my ears. With my pitch pipe in hand, I got my starting note and waited for the tech guys to turn off the music so I could begin the National Anthem.

Only they forgot to turn off the Beatles.

There was no way I could attempt to sing one song while listening to another and taking off the headset wasn’t an option since the mic was attached. So with two major league baseball teams and 15,000 spectators watching, I walked off the field.

I pulled off the headset and asked them to cut the Beatles. Then I pulled myself together, got my pitch, walked back to the pitcher’s mound and sang my song.

Saul and I were just dating at the time. He was standing near the dugout and when I walked off the field. He wrapped me up in a big hug and told me what an awesome job I had done.

I told him I would never sing again.

And I haven’t.

Previous to that Brewers game, I had sang in quite a few pageants, including Miss America. I had performed the National Anthem at hockey games, basketball games and professional soccer games. I toured the state of Wisconsin for an entire year and sang everywhere I went.

Every single time I sang, my body would turn cold. The fear would tangle it’s icy fingers around me and it was only by sheer will that I was able to open my mouth so that first note could escape.

I always assumed that if I just did it enough, I would eventually overcome the fear. But I never did.

Today’s memory verse is from 1Peter 4:10, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (NLT)

My voice was a gift from God. But I never looked at it that way. I never imagined it was meant to serve others. I always assumed it was meant to make me look good or give me entrance into a world that brought fame or fortune.

When I sang, I constantly worried if I looked good, sounded good, would remember the words. In short, Did people like me????

I never once thought, “God, you gave me this gift. How do you want me to use it?” or “God, let them see you through me.”

Friend, you have gifts given specifically to you from the Holy Spirit. The Bible mentions speaking, helping others, giving wise advice, great faith, healing, miracles, the ability to foretell the future or give people a special message from God, discernment, leadership, teaching…

There are others, but I hope you see yourself in at least a few of them, because they are there, inside of you.

Unfortunately, we have the ability to block the gifts we’ve been given by second guessing ourselves, wishing we had gifts that someone else has, or in my case, wrapping the gift up into too much ego and self-involvement.

I don’t miss singing. I don’t want to sing under a spotlight. And I don’t think that’s what God wants for me. But he has tweaked that gift in a way that includes still using my voice– this time as a speaker. And now when I get nervous to step onto that stage, I can do it with boldness because of the tiny prayer I whisper just before I grab that mic. God, please speak through me. Help people know you through my voice.

As you memorize this week’s verse, I encourage you to think about the special gifts God has given you. And how you might use them fearlessly to serve others.