If my steering wheel was alive, I’m sure it would be gasping for air from my grip right now. The truth is, I’m gasping myself.
[10 Minutes Earlier]
I was driving to a church staff meeting, where as the Adult Christian Formation Director I attend whenever I can. It had been a stressful week and I was weighing whether to still go. So I called my dad, the pastor, to discuss what I would miss if I opted out.
“Well,” he began slowly, “It would be kind of hard if you weren’t here since you are leading the prayer service this Sunday…”
“What?” I sputtered. “I didn’t know I was leading it!” [*Gasp, gasp*] “I mean, I only thought you wanted me to write it… I never thought of leading…”
Whatever he said next I missed completely. I was having too difficult a time breathing (literally and spiritually).
A few deep breaths later, I tuned back in.
“We can work it out,” he said. “If you’re able to come, we can discuss it when you get here. If not…”
“I’m coming,” I mumbled.
Normally, that would have been it: A case of misunderstanding that would be resolved within the hour. But that wasn’t it.
Now I am gripping the steering wheel and wheezing a prayer. Lord, what does this mean? Didn't I just recently commit to soaring and taking more risks…
Thoughts of putting my money where my mouth is, the rubber meeting the road, practicing what you preach and a whole list of other cliché’s come to mind. Now don’t get me wrong. I have actually been stretching to greater heights and God has been there every time, but leading the congregation in a prayer service? Now that’s mega-scary!
Driving down the freeway I try to pray, but it’s hard – my knuckles are white now, and I feel like I’m beginning to hyperventilate (literally and …). It’s time to activate my S.O.S. breathing support system. I call my mother.
Talking to her helps me articulate the crux of the matter. What I'm feeling isn’t about a misunderstanding. It's about fear. It's about discerning whether God wants to use this experience to grow me. And if I don’t do it, am I being disobedient?
My mom has encouraging words about God taking me higher and this being an opportunity for me to see him work, but she also feels that if I’m not ready, God will send other opportunities. “This is a tough one," she says. "Only you can make the decision.”
Usually after talking with my mother I have a sense of where God is leading me, but not this time. I’m breathing better for sure, but I’m still quivering. I feel like I’m standing on the precipice of a cliff. In my mind I know I have everything I need to take flight, but I lack the confidence to go for it. And this pains me. Does it mean I don’t trust God enough?
During the staff meeting I’m able to forget my cliff decision as we go through normal business. My dad hasn’t mentioned me leading the service, so I conclude he has worked it out. And then, just as the meeting is winding down he says, “Tammy has something she needs to discuss about Sunday.” [*MAJOR GASP*]
Feeling like a five-year-old in a room of grown ups, I take a deep breath and begin. I quickly explain the situation, how the liturgy for the service is already written, and that I need someone to lead it.
My briefing takes all of five minutes, but it’s excruciating – I feel so naked.
And the whole time, I’m praying. God, am I giving away something that I should be doing myself? Am I disappointing you? Am I failing to avail myself to what you want to do in my life? I’m just so scared…
God is quiet.
After a brief discussion, one of the pastors says, “I’ll do it.” Then others chime in and by the time the meeting is over, it’s decided that various pastors will lead the sections.
As the meeting moves on to another topic without any fanfare around my ordeal, I look around the room. I rush of relief washes over me, and then the most incredible sense of love. I feel God’s tender and warm embrace through my brothers and sisters, whether they know it or not.
And I hear God say: It’s okay, Tammy, I love you. We’ll take that flight when you’re ready.