(All Scriptures are from The Amplified Bible, except when otherwise noted.)
(My dear home tutor, Mrs. Holt and me, in the ’60s)
When I was a little girl, I was terrified of speaking to strangers, especially my peers. I was so afraid of being laughed at. For me, “imitation was [NOT] the best form of flattery.” When kids laughed at me and imitated my cerebral-palsied speech I wanted to crawl under a rock and cry. And I did cry and cry and cry when I was alone. During grade school, the town education department provided a home tutor for me. During second-grade, I went to a regular classroom for an hour a week and was given speech therapy, in the town over, for an hour a week. During that time, I was introduced to how cruel children can be, even as young as second-graders. In addition to kids laughing at how I talked, the speech therapist made a recording of my voice and played it back to me. I was devastated. I was not ready for what turned out to be an extremely traumatic experience. I did not have any idea what I sounded like. From that time on, I would not speak to anyone but my family and a few kids in the neighborhood. I told my mom that I was too tired to go to school. My mom thought I was just not ready for regular school, so she let me stop going and had my home tutoring continue. I tried going to school again at fifth grade and this time a young new teacher talked to the class about me and I had a better experience.
(Mom and Dad and me at my high school graduation)
By junior high, I was attending regular public school, without home tutoring. But, I still would not talk to anyone. Instead, I wrote notes to the teachers and students, up until high school. (I think that’s when my writing skills began to develop.) Then, during my junior year of high school, the Holy Spirit got a hold of me and I became a Christian, a believer and follower of Jesus Christ. The Lord used my only friend in high school to take me to a Christian youth group. It was there that the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see, opened ears to hear and opened my heart to understand who Jesus is and that He was the One for me! Jesus took my fear away, including my fear of speaking to strangers. And I have not stopped talking since!
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, Today, if you hear His Voice, Do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7-8a).
“By this [Christian love] we come to know (perceive, recognize and understand) that we abide (live and remain) in Him [Christ] and He in us: because He has given (imparted) to us of His (Holy) Spirit…There is no fear in [God‘s] love – dread does not exist; but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror!” (I John 4:13, 18a)
In “A Person of Ministry (Part I)”, we read how Peter (the same Peter with “foot-in-mouth disease” who denied knowing Jesus, three time, for fear of his life) boldly spoke to the crowd about what was taking place on that special Pentecost and explained what they were all seeing and what it meant. Later on, in Acts chapter 2, Peter continues to speak with boldness about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and explains how the prophets of old pointed to Jesus as Messiah. Peter urged the crowd to “Repent – change your views, and purpose to accept the will of God in your inner selves instead of rejecting it – and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins; and you shall receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise (of the Holy Spirit) is to and for you and your children, and to and for all that are far away, [even] to as many as the Lord our God invites and bids come to Himself” (vv.38-39; also see Isaiah 57:19 and Joel 2:32) God used Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, to convince many to give their lives to Christ. The disciples were “Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with all the people, and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved (from spiritual death)” (v. 47).
Have you received the Gift of New Life from God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit? He wants to give you His Free Gift of Eternal Life. God’s love wants to take away your fears and love you with an everlasting love. He wants you “to accept the will of God in your inner self” and trust in “Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of and release from your sins” and He wants you to “receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit” Who will be with you always to comfort you and to help you on your life’s journey. Sometimes, it is difficult to receive the Free Gift of Salvation and to admit we need counseling and HELP of the Spirit of Truth. Some think they are unworthy to receive anything from God… But all of us are unworthy. Some think they do not need any help and are basically good people. The Truth is: “…all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives” (Romans 3:20).and “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the Truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:8-9 [N.I.V.]). God wants to give us His Free Gift of New Life in His Son to be lived out by the Power of the Holy Spirit. There are no strings attached. God only wants to love us and desires for us to love Him back.
But wait! There’s more. The Gift of the Holy Spirit is the Gift that keeps on giving. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are many and they come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Tune in next time for “A Person of Ministry (Part III) to find out more.
P.S. If you are a teacher, please know that you play a very important role in each of your students’ lives, just as Mrs. Holt and Miss Stack made a huge difference in mine. I thank the Lord for them and for others who saw my potential and helped me grow.