This holiday season has flown by and I must admit that I've barely participated in it. Usually I start (maybe not always finish) an Advent reading plan, I listen to a lot of holiday music and I binge watch those really bad but sentimental holiday movies. Don't judge me. This year however I really just haven't been quite that into all of that. I wish I had some profoundly spiritual reason why, but I don't. Part of it is that I've been extremely busy trying to learn all I can possibly learn about my new church home and my role in it. I felt the only way to get acclimated was to jump in the deep end with both feet. Apparently the Lord agreed because last Sunday I found myself in deep waters quite unexpectedly. I had to do something that I always knew was a possibility but never thought could or would happen to me. With only about five minutes notice before service, I found myself tasked with bringing the Word for morning worship! Every preacher in a black church context has been told never to show up to church without "a word in your pocket" but it very rarely happens that your senior pastor will turn to you and say, "You're preaching today." I've heard tales of it happening, but realistically speaking no one in their right mind would set anyone up like that if for no other reason than God's people deserve a good Word when they come to church. I guess I never accounted for those rare instances when the senior pastor is sick, which is what happened. I always think of my senior pastor as indestructible because even when he's not feeling well, he always seems to soldier through (which for him might not always be a good thing). This time that was not an option, and after a quick chat with my colleagues that essentially amounted to rock-paper-scissors, it was decided that I would sit in the big chair that morning.
Now I know all of the prolific and incredibly gifted preachers reading this are wondering what the big deal is because you do this all the time. Perhaps you've been spirit-filled since the womb like John the Baptist and can wake up out of your sleep preaching. Well I hate to disappoint you, but that ain't my testimony. I'm a manuscript preacher. I like resting comfortably in the knowledge that I've thoroughly prepared every time I stand to bring the Word. Yet in this unexpected moment, I learned something about myself. What I learned is that 'it' really is in me. I'm always telling my senior pastor that he is so blessed that 'it' is in him- the Word, the anointing, the gift- because he's been preaching since he was very young. But I learned that my gifts, my anointing, and the Word that has ministered to me really is in me. It may not manifest itself in the same way it does in people like my senior pastor, but it comes forth in a way that is unique to how God has designed me.
My panic-stricken and unexpected moment was an important reminder. It reminded me to trust the gift of God that is within me. It reminded that just because my gift doesn't look like what I usually admire, it doesn't mean my gift is not powerful or cannot minister to God's people. In this season of great transition where some days I don't always recognize myself, I'm thankful God chose to show me in such dramatic fashion that God does indeed stand up real big in me too!