I preached for the first time at my new church a few weeks ago. I received a lot of positive feedback, and even today someone told me how much they enjoyed the sermon, and how I didn't seem nervous at all. So, I'm having trouble finding a way to tell all these people that IT WASN'T ME.
I don't really preach. I can't. I dropped classes in college to avoid public speaking. I HATE public speaking. I got so nervous just giving the toast at my friends' wedding a few weeks ago that my hand and the glass it held were visibly shaking. If it were up to me, I could never, ever do it. But something happens when I lead worship. The Spirit overtakes my nerves; my hands steady and my voice becomes clear. That's not to say that I'm not nervous. I'm really, really nervous. But I stand up there anyway, and God shows up.
I preached for the first time when I was in college. I did a planned dialogue with a friend from the Wesley foundation during our Wesley on Wheels worship at a church we were visiting. As I walked to the church that morning, I threw up in the bushes because the nerves had my stomach so upset. But when I started speaking in the sanctuary, I was OK. And it happens every time. I'm nervous. My hands sometimes shake. I still occasionally get nauseous as I sit waiting for the service to start. But as the hymns and prayers begin, someone else takes over.
I'm sure that the physiological explanation has something to do with adrenaline overcoming anxiety or some such thing, but I'm pretty sure it's bigger than that. Without God, I couldn't and wouldn't do this. I'd have a nice cubicle or copy desk job where I'd never have to stand in front of more than eight people at once. But God dreamed something bigger and equipped me to do it. So each week I stand in front of a congregation and trust that the Spirit will show up again this week and speak through me. And I am in awe because God keeps showing up.