The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
Friend to Friend
When I was six years old, I skipped off to first grade with a fresh box of crayons, a crisp green dress with Swiss polka dots sleeves, and a fresh hope that I would be good enough—that someone would at least like me. But first grade only confirmed my fears. I wasn’t good enough after all.
From the time my teacher held up the first spelling flash card, I knew I was in trouble. Back in the day, kindergarten focused on coloring, playing, and napping. But first grade was a whole new ballgame with letters, numbers, and words. First grade had flash cards.
I remember one exercise that makes my palms clammy even today. We lined our miniature wooden chairs up in a row like a choo-choo train. The conductor, Mrs. Morgan, held up a spelling flash card for the lead passenger to identify.
If he or she could not correctly decipher the word on the card, that passenger lost the lead seat and had to go sit in the caboose. I spent most of the first grade in the caboose. I could not spell to save my life.
Mrs. Morgan decided that she was going to give me a little extra help. After all, she had taught my brother five years earlier, and he was pretty smart. Maybe there was hope for me.
She kept me after school to work on my reading with another little boy named Mike. I might not have been very bright, but I was smart enough to figure out what being singled out with Mike meant.
For some reason I had particular trouble with the word “the.” In an effort to help me remember that all-important word, Mrs. Morgan made a name tag that read “t-h-e” and pinned it to my little chest. I had to wear this scarlet letter for two weeks.
My peers taunted me with words of their own. “Why are you wearing that name tag?” “Is your name ‘The’?” “Are you stupid?” “What’s wrong with you?”
After two weeks, I learned how to spell the word, “t-h-e,” but that’s not all I learned. I learned that I was stupid, just not as smart as everybody else, and once again…not enough.
Fast forward thirty years. Now God was nudging me to write? With words? Words that I had to spell? One of my greatest weaknesses? One of my insidious sources of insecurity? The very thing that put the rubber stamp on my greatest fears so long ago?
The truth is, I was not stupid. I just couldn’t spell very well. Still can’t. And even though I graduated with honors, did well in college, wrote a passel of books, there are many times I feel like that little girl sitting in the spelling train caboose.
Isn’t it mind boggling that God will sometimes take our greatest weaknesses and turn them into our greatest strengths? But that won’t happen until we let go of the fear of moving forward and take hold of the hand of God with a grip of trust. We can choose to stay stuck in the caboose, or come up front with the chief engineer.
I’m still not a good speller. However, I am not going to allow my weakness to stand in the way of my God-given purpose. I hope you won’t either.
God said to Moses, God said to me, and God is saying to you: “I will teach you what to say. I will show you what to do.”
What more could a person ask for? What more could you and I need?
What is God calling you to do today?
Heavenly Father, sometimes I focus on what I’m not good at, ignoring what I am. Help me to move forward and live bold, regardless of my fears, my shortcomings, and my weaknesses. Help me to depend on You, and to do what You have called me to do in Your strength.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
I mentioned Moses in today’s devotion. Read Exodus 4:10-12.
What did Moses say was his weakness?
What was God’s reply?
What did God tell Paul about his weakness? 2 Corinthians 12:9