When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (emphasis added)
Weak, fearful, trembling. This is not how I picture Paul. In my mind Paul is a confident, eloquent preacher. If he were alive today he’d be the lead pastor of a multi-campus mega church.
Paul showed up alone in Corinth — Silas and Timothy were still in Athens — and he stayed with Aquila and his wife, Priscilla. From them he learned tentmaking, a means of supporting himself outside of the ministry.
Each Sabbath Paul would preach to the Jews in the synagogue about Jesus, however the Jews became abusive towards Paul. Rejected, abused and a failure, Paul vowed to only go to the Gentiles from that point forward.
It couldn’t have been easy for him. Having already been turned upon by his own people, he now presented himself to strangers. No wonder he said he didn’t come with eloquence and superior wisdom. If I was him I would definitely have felt downtrodden.
Then one night Paul had a vision from God:
Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city. Acts 18:9-10 (emphasis mine)
That’s when Paul’s strategy changed.
He chose to base his message on a demonstration of God’s power instead of on his own ability to present wise and persuasive words. All of the responsibility for the Corinthians’ faith was then on God’s shoulders, not Paul’s.
We all have things that we’re afraid of. Things that cause our heart to pound and a rushing sound in our ears as all the blood rushes to our head. My list includes mice, spiders, burglars, and meeting new people.
Fear is normal; in scripture we’re told to fear the Lord. It’s when we allow those fears to hold us back that the problem occurs. Paul did not allow his fear of speaking to hinder him. Instead he stepped out and trusted God would step in where he was lacking.
This weekend I experienced that gut-wrenching, paralyzing fear. The kind that makes you feel like your legs are going to shake out from under you.
I was invited to my first “tweetup.” For those of you who are Twitter illiterate (or twilliterate), a tweetup is a gathering of people who use Twitter. It was an opportunity for me to get to know in real life people I have been communicating with for months online.
As silly as it sounds, suddenly I was transported back to high school and all my fears and insecurities resurfaced. As the day progressed and the time to leave drew near I found myself growing more withdrawn; self-doubting thoughts racing through my mind.
“What if they don’t like me?”
“What if no one talks to me?”
“What should I wear?”
It turned out that I had nothing to worry about. Just as they had shown themselves to be online, everyone was friendly and welcoming. I had drug Josh along as my ice-breaker, because I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like him. At the end of the night we both agreed that it was one of the strangest experiences we’ve had, but was also a fantastic evening.
I could have given in to my fears and backed out of the event. All week I had excuses piling up in my head, willing me to cancel. Instead I faced my fear head-on and gave it to God. I value these relationships that I’m cultivating online.
As weird as it might be, these are some of the people I connect with everyday. I read their blogs, I respond to their tweets, I admire them. Who knows what future good God could have planned out of our interactions?
When we have fears God asks us to hand them over to Him; to trust that He has the situation in hand.
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7
This weekend my anxiety was small compared to some of those things that people are fearful about: jobs, finances, relationships, children, health issues and direction for the future. Regardless of the size, God truly can handle anything we throw at Him. Instead of giving in to our worry, we can choose to be like Paul and trust in the power of the Spirit to carry us through.
In a desire to build more community here, what do you need prayer for? I would love to pray for you or someone you care for. Just leave your prayer request in the comments to let me know and please pray for the person who commented before you.
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16