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The Stuttering Servant
Does fear hold you back? God will work in your weakness.

A cover of Time once asked, "What Scares You Most?" How would you respond? Hundreds of phobias were listed including Arachibutyrophobia, which is fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth! My dog has this fear, but I do not. However, I do experience the number one fear among humans—speaking in public.

I set the phone down, noticing that my knuckles were sweating. I’m no preacher, I thought.

After the release of my first book, the phone rang. I answered. "Phil, we would like you to speak to our high school graduating class," said a sweet voice from a nearby school. "You went to high school once, so we thought you'd have something to tell the graduates."

"Urn ..." I stammered, "I would rather crawl across molten metal in a loincloth." No, I didn't say that. But I did say, "Well ... uh ... let me think about it for a minute. There, I thought about it. I can't. I just get too nervous. My lips quiver. My knees knock. My liver hurts. I drool. But ... urn ... thanks anyway. Please call me again. In about four hundred years."

The lady managed a polite laugh before hanging up.

I set the phone down, noticing that my knuckles were sweating. I'm no preacher, I thought.

The calls continued to come. "Phil, would you come and speak to us."

I told each caller the same thing. "I can't. My tongue gets swollen. My mind goes blank. What if my kidney explodes?"

One night I went home and told my wife about it. She said, "Honey, do you remember in Scripture where God used Balaam's donkey to talk? Maybe He could use you?"

I think it was intended as a compliment.

That night I got on my knees and said some simple words. "Lord, whatever you want I am yours. Whatever you want, I will do. If you can use a guy like me, that's truly amazing."

A week later the phone rang. I stood there with the phone in my hand, thinking about the question.

I said yes that day to the lady on the phone. I think I surprised us both. But that night I understood why. I had been reading the Bible through in a year (sometimes I make it, sometimes I don't) and I had just reached the book of Exodus. When Moses, later to be dubbed The Prince of Egypt stood before a burning bush, he heard God's call and winced. "Wait a minute, Lord," he said. "Not me. I stutter. My knees knock. I drool." And the Lord said, "That's okay. I can work with that."

And He did.

Today, believe it or not, speaking one hundred times a year is one of the most rewarding things I get to do. Not because I'm so wonderful. But because He is. Not because I'm strong, or brilliant, or always prepared. But because Christ's power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us so.

I've lived 47 years on this planet. And few things I've learned are more profound than this: God continually chooses the most under-qualified to do His work. Because they know they can't do it by themselves, and they never forget Who deserves the credit.

How about you?

Is there something rewarding you're missing because of fear? Remember that fear is the little darkroom where negatives are developed. So face that fear, prayerfully. You never know what God will do. And when good things happen, never forget Who gets the credit.

Phil Callaway is the author of It's Always Darkest Before the Fridge Door Opens (Bethany House). Visit him at Phil Callaway is the editor of Servant magazine, author of a dozen books and a popular speaker. His web site is:

Originally published in Presbyterian Record, June 2009.

Used with permission. Copyright © 2009





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