I'm having "a procedure" done tomorrow.
For some reason, "a procedure" doesn't sound as serious as surgery does. Even though I will be under general anesthesia for a bit, I think that if you get to go home the same day, it doesn't really count.
Anyway, tomorrow I get to endure the first of (potentially) two surgeries on my vocal chords. After 14 years of yelling my way through youth ministry and what was perhaps a virus that attacked my chords many years ago (we don't really know) my voice has developed a raspy, hoarse sound that has begun to affect my ability to communicate. It is especially bad in the morning and after long periods of speaking. I tend to be pretty wordy, so I end up sounding a lot like Bob Dylan at the end of the day.
My surgeon's office has photos and thank you notes from the likes of Peter Gabriel, Bono, and Chris Martin from Coldplay, so hopefully I will end up sounding like one of them. Thankfully, there are no pictures of Joe Cocker, Tom Waits, or Rod Stewart. All great vocalists, but I don't want to sound like them. The best case scenario would be to sound like Barry White when this is all over. I think Jenifer would really dig that.
Worst case: Kermit the Frog. Pray that doesn't happen.
If I have to confess, my sub-par voice has made me pretty insecure in ministry at different times in my life. When you add to my raspy voice a tendency to mumble and an awful habit of talking fast when I'm excited, I end up falling short in my ability to communicate. For someone who feels called to preach, teach, and counsel, it has made for a pretty significant shortcoming in the execution of my ministry.
But whenever I get to feeling that way, God sends me back to Exodus. In chapters 3 and 4, God is calling Moses to lead His children out of captivity. He gives Moses plenty of signs and wonders to prove how in control He is. And Moses gives plenty of excuses. The one that I most relate to is found in Exodus 4:10-12.
Moses said to the LORD, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
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.”
Moses reminds God that "I don't talk so good." And God reminds Moses that "it doesn't matter." The only thing that matters is that Almighty God is calling you to go and that He will do the talking. It's all about Him. It has nothing to do with Moses' abilities or aptitudes.
This truth speaks to me when I feel my voice is inadequate. But it also convicts me when I feel inadequate in other areas.
When I feel like a crummy husband, God usually assures me that I'm right. But it doesn't matter. What matters is that I regularly get my self-centered heart out of the way and allow Him to love Jenifer in and through me.
When I sense I'm failing as a father, God reminds me that I will always fall short in that area. But it doesn't matter. What matters is that I am faithful to come alongside God in His desire to draw HIs children to Himself.
When I daily find myself in situations in ministry and relationships and work where I know for certain that I am in over my head, God reminds me again and again: who I am and what I can do DOES NOT MATTER. The only thing that matters is that He is God and that He is at work. And he speaks over me the very thing He spoke over Moses: "I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."
"Father, may I be reminded of your presence and your power in every moment when I feel inadequate. And in those moments, I pray that I will listen closely as you teach me what to say."
As a post script, I realize that I tend to be an off-again on-again blogger: I post daily for a few weeks and then go for a long period with nothing. It's been a dry spell over the past few weeks so I apologize. Since I can't talk for a few days starting tomorrow and my communications will be limited to the computer, maybe I'll get caught up. Then again, maybe I won't. :-)