You can do it!

“You can do this, honey. I know it’s scary because you’ve never done it before. But I’ll be right there with you. I promise.”

As parents, we often encourage our children to try new things. After all, you never know what they might be good at or really enjoy doing if they never try.

Our loving heavenly Father does that with His children too. He regularly calls us to do things that are outside our comfort zones—not just to stretch us, but also because He wants us to rely on Him to do things in us and through us, rather than only doing things we feel confident doing in our own strength.

Years ago, when I sensed God urging me to start teaching at writers’ conferences, I laughed. You remember when I tried public speaking last, right? My talk was just ten minutes long, but my body shook so badly the whole time, someone from the audience asked me afterward what drugs I was on. Neither of us wants that to happen again, right?

But the Lord sent people and opportunities my way that helped me learn how to do public speaking well. So I stepped out in faith and gave it a try. Now I teach at six to eight writers’ conferences a year, and I absolutely love it!

Apparently, however, that wasn’t good enough. Once I felt comfortable teaching at writers’ conferences, God decided to stretch me again.

The director of the Montrose Christian Writers’ Conference this year asked me to teach three workshops, a work-in-progress seminar, and a keynote presentation. I’ve only done two keynotes before, and that was years ago. So I felt a little nervous. But I said yes anyway.

Well, as I was preparing for my talk, I realized that one of my points would be very powerfully illustrated through a song I heard years ago at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sure, I could try to find a way to play the recording of the song in the middle of my talk and just stand there on the platform while it played. But God seemed to want me to actually sing it.

Now, I love singing praise songs and hymns … at church, when I’m surrounded by lots of other people whose voices drown mine out. Or in the car, with the windows rolled up. But to sing in front of a group of people? Nope. Not gonna happen. Sorry. Have to find some other way to illustrate that point in my talk.

But the Holy Spirit wouldn’t stop pestering—I mean, persuading me. So I contacted the pianist for the conference and asked if she’d be willing to accompany me. She agreed, if I could get her the chords. I contacted the woman who wrote and performed the song, and she graciously agreed to send them.

Unfortunately, when I got to the conference and practiced with the pianist, I discovered that the key was considerably higher than I’d sung the song in before … which would make my voice sound even worse—especially on the high note in the chorus!

Really? Thanks a lot, God.

Well, when I got to that part in the keynote, I set the expectations bar really low by explaining that there was a song I wanted to share, even though I didn’t have a good singing voice, and I asked my listeners to pay attention to the message of the song, not to my voice. Then I sang “Come Meet the Author of Life” by Sally Klein O’Connor. It’s one of those songs that tells a story, so I acted out the motions a bit on the stage. And when I breathed out the last word of the last verse, I heard gasps throughout the room. I asked the audience to sing the final chorus with me, and as they did, the presence of the Holy Spirit was palpable.

Afterward, several people came up to me and told me how much the song had touched their hearts. They were also moved by the fact that even though I wasn’t confident in my singing voice (which they assured me wasn’t as bad as I’d made it out to be), I’d followed God’s leading and did it anyway. They said that encouraged them to step out and do some things that God was calling them to do that were a little bit scary.

I’m glad God used that song—and my obedience—to bless people. That’s why I go to these writers’ conferences, to be the instrument the Holy Spirit uses to speak to folks.

What do you sense God nudging you to do that you’ve been reluctant, hesitant, afraid of saying yes to? Give your fears and nervousness over to the Lord and hear Him say, “You can do this, My child. I know it’s scary because you’ve never done it before. But I’ll be right there with you. I promise.”