“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy!” So jokes comedian Jerry Seinfeld. As with all of the best humour, there’s an element of truth to his observation. But not for me.
Sometimes I’m filled with nervous anticipation and other times with the boldness of God's words, but either way I love publicly sharing the love of God. It's core to who I am as a disciple of a Man who never shied away from spreading the gospel far and wide. Why? I’ve got good news to share. The best news this world has ever had. And I cannot keep it to myself!
Today I’m speaking at the North NSW Women’s Conference. As I look out at the sea of beautiful faces I observe the beauty of God’s creation in each and every person. The women are from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds and experiences. I long and pray that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and touched by God’s words.
The research is done. The study and long hours have been placed into the message. Now my thought is, will I reach those who need the message God has given me? My earnest and heartfelt prayer is for God's words to be the words that spill from my lips as the Holy Spirit takes over.
Over the weekend women get in touch with their inner beauty—their beauty from within—as they reflect on the inner beauty that Jesus saw in the women of the Bible.
We look at the inner beauty of Jesus’ first evangelist, the Samaritan women. He doesn’t make an emphasis on her sin; instead He focuses on her and the good message that the Messiah had come.
We examine Mary’s inner beauty of faith. Mary gave her most valuable gift to Jesus—spikenard. I have authentic spikenard from Israel with me; just one drop in a small jar for each person as they use their sense of smell, making the story come alive all these thousands of kilometres and years away from when Mary washed Christ’s feet.
I finish speaking. Did the Holy Spirit move? Was I able to convey just a little of the immense value God places on every one of the women at this conference? In a world awash with corrosive and exploitative images of women, have I been able to communicate just a fraction of the immense beauty and dignity, the immeasurable value of each one of the women gathered here? It’s hard to say.
A young woman walks by and as she does, she pushes a note into my hand and quietly walks away.
I anxiously open the letter and read:
“Dear Jessica, this is my first introduction to the Adventist Church. I have only felt love. For me, this is overwhelming as my entire life I’ve only felt rejection. No-one has ever told me I am beautiful, worthy, loved or wanted. Since hearing the message from you my whole concept of beauty has totally changed. I feel like a beautiful, worthy princess. I now know I’m here for a purpose and I’m excited about what God has for me in the future. Thank you for having such an amazing impact on my life. You have created in me a passion to pursue my hopes and dreams. You have helped me learn how to love myself and treat myself with love and respect and worth. I want to learn more about God and His Word and apply it to my life. I want to make an impact on others’ lives like you do.”
As I read the note, I'm overwhelmed with tears. I fall on my knees and seek the One who knows everything and pray for this young woman. The next day I hear more of her story and her deep yearning to return to her Maker. We are now studying the Bible together. Two women with one goal: to be like Jesus.
I now know that every time I share the love of Christ I open a window for people to accept Him. There’s no need to be shy about my love for Him. Christ died very publicly for me. Why not publicly share the good news? By so doing it changes me for the better and I can be used to provide a lifeline to others.