I had a humbling and terrifying experience the other day. Someone gave me a great compliment on one of the talks I’ve given. I can’t remember if she actually said my talk changed her life, but it was along those lines.
It was humbling for obvious reasons. But it was terrifying for less obvious ones.
The talk to which she was referring was a talk I was proud of, in the best sense. But it wasn’t my talk. That is, after all, why I can be proud of it. It wasn’t the talk I thought I was going to write. I was definitely being used by the Holy Spirit.
The topic I had been given was fairly broad, but I had an idea of the direction I would take with it. A few months before the conference, I started reading and reading. And the more I read, the more ideas I had about the talk. And the more helpless I began feeling. So many possible directions… What was really the purpose of this talk? I continued reading, still pretty committed to my original thoughts and ideas.
Then one day I was sitting in the chapel before daily Mass. And the answer was given to me. Something in a certain paragraph or something I had been praying about, I can’t remember which, jumped out at me. And I felt like Jesus had handed my talk to me. Forget what you had orginally thought, what you had wanted, what you thought was best. Go in this direction with it instead.
Now, I still had to craft the talk, of course – it hadn’t been dictated or anything – and so the talk isn’t perfect by any means. But I remember coming out of the chapel after Mass and wanting to tell the whole world my exciting news. I knew what I was going to talk about! Granted, this was only a few days before the conference, so everyone probably thought I was a little nuts. (And perhaps I am). But I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Now I just needed to write the thing. And give it.
Fast forward seven months, and here someone was telling me that my talk had impacted their prayer life and healing process. I am still sort of reeling. It wasn’t me. It was the Holy Spirit. That day in the chapel could have been entirely for her. That talk might have been entirely for her. He knew that, even if I had no clue.
What if I had said no?
Sure, He is not limited by our weakness or incompetence. But it’s still rather terrifying. God, help me to always listen. To always be open.
Anything I do well… is Him. Anything I mess up… is all me.