i have heard the occasional speaker say that god led them to chuck the talk they had worked so hard to prepare, and to say something else they’d just come up with. and, this has usually just ticked me off, because i’ve seen it be used as a manipulative trick to get an audience to think the speaker has some kind of direct connection to god that the audience doesn’t have — only to give a talk they’ve given a hundred times before, or give a sloppy, from the hip, pile of mush.
but, sunday afternoon, after working for weeks on my closing general session talk, i was attempting to take a short nap (unsuccessfully), and could not escape the distinct impression that i was supposed to drop-kick my well-honed outline and do something else. to be honest, it made me mad, because i like to be in control, and the notion of doing something else, in front of 2000 youth workers, on a few hours notice, was terrifying.
tic encouraged me to sleep on it, and see if i woke up feeling the same way, or if i forgot about it. i woke up about every 45 minutes all night long, with this impression in my mind.
so, monday morning, i sat, trembling, at my laptop, and tried to discern what god would have me do. i had noticed this amazing theme weaving through the general session speakers — a theme of how we dilute, distort, and disembowel the gospel in a variety of ways. and, how that ruins our opportunity to really experience the gospel embodied in the person of jesus. and, how we do the same for the teenagers we’re hoping to connect with the gospel.
god led me, i think, to a small collection of stories and thoughts, which i ended up sharing as my new closing general session talk monday mid-day. it was unnerving, until i started talking. then, i just had a sense that this was clearly what i was supposed to talk about.
i was very pleased to find, then, that — while it would have been enough if it were only a message for me — this new direction seemed to find a place hold in the lives of many who were listening.
it was an exhausting experience, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. and i don’t want to do this very often. but i have a sense of peace that i listened accurately to the disorderly, interrupting voice of god.
i’m off to the airport, to fly home. i expect to spend much of the flight sleeping.
(photo ht to billy hartz flikr)