Pray Without Ceasing - 1971
You could have stirred the humidity inside the old gymnasium with a spoon.The ceiling fans were moving but not helping. The college colors, red and white, speckled the wooden floor as the class of 1970 marched to their assigned, metal seats. I would have been graduating that day if I had not changed my major from Art to Elementary Education at the beginning of my junior year.
Some of my graduating friends were getting married this summer. Others would be going on vacations before they found or reported to their new jobs. I had to stay behind and go to summer school. As I shifted my weight on the hard bleacher, jealousy clouded my mind .
Forgive me, Lord, for being jealous and help me be happy for my friends. Be sure and protect each gradhate and help them find a great job!
It was easy to spot him as he came in the gym door. Tommy looked straight ahead as he walked passed me to his assigned seat. I was surprised but proud he was graduating. Rumor had it he was going to (wet) Jellico, TN every weekend. I hoped his step-parents were there that day to support him. I almost got to meet them once while I was in Somerset, Kentucky on a gospel team. They had left the church earlier to preach a revival somewhere. I loved being in their quaint, little church where Tommy had grown up, gotten saved, and had surrendered his life to preach. He was definitely a dynamic preacher!
Jesus. . . help Tommy to smile again by coming back to You!
I had gotten a “D" in Elementary Health so I had to take if over. I hoped I didn’t have to take it again under Miss Baird, a former Army Sergeant. She wore the same 1920’s black dress and slicked her crew cut back with bacon grease. We had to memorize and orally regurgitate the the outdated health answers for a daily grade. I had a rebellious attitude about her teaching methods. Her mean look at us made me forgot everything I had read and tried to memorize.
Lord, forgive me and help me with my bad attitude toward Miss Baird.
I was so thankful I had a different teacher for my summer health class and we didn’t have to memorize anything. I was glad he believed in personal hygiene. He liked having open discussions and letting us ask personal health questions that would make our parents blush. I read the assignments and passed his easy, multiple choice tests.
LORD, help me to do well in my worst subject!
Four years I had put off taking Speech class! The fear of speaking in front of my peers paralyzed me. In high school I took an “F” before I would give a speech. Now, speech was a requirement for my major. After all, a teacher must prove they can speak before a class! I dreaded giving a speech worse than getting my period. As the dreaded day of my speech class approached, I prayed like a nun using a rosary with a thousand beads; and I’m a Baptist!
Lord, pleeeeeeze help me not to shake like a leaf and pass out in speech class.
PHOTO BY JPEG
When my name was picked first, my stomach complained. I had taken TUMS earlier but they didn’t help. Under my breath I said a Bible verse: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Somehow, I walked to the front of the class and faced my peers. Like a deer in headlights I stared over the dozen heads, at the back wall.
I closed my eyes and sucked in a deep breath and wished I could disappear. Instead, a calmness from another world filled me with supernatural strength. I announced the title of my speech and I couldn’t believe my confidence. Was that my voice? My words flowed like honey. Jesus reminded me to give my audience eye contact and when I did most of the students nodded with approval. Their positive connection encouraged me. I was on the roll and I wanted to say a lot more but I ran out of index cards.
My wide-eyed teacher was speechless for a few seconds before he erupted with embarrassing bravos. After that he asked me a weird question, “Miss Wilcox, have you been doing professional speaking somewhere?”
My mind went blank. I thought he was patronizing me. Seeing my puzzled face he quickly assured me he wasn’t joking. He explained, “What I meant is have you spoken in front of groups before? Maybe, on the radio?”
“Well… I have been going on weekend gospel teams to churches for four years doing skits, singing solos, and giving my personal testimony in front of people.” I said. "I’ve been praying hard to over come my fear of speaking in front of my peers. I asked God to help me speak well and not shake or mess up like I usually did in junior high school.”
“Your fear seems to be gone now! Evidently, that prayer thing works for you, young lady! You didn’t shake or mess up once! You seem to have a gift! Your eye contact was exceptional and your voice reflection perfect. I’m glad to give you an “A” today!”
The class clapped softly as I walked back to my seat. I could hardly believe how well the speech went! My insides felt liberated like the dust floating in the sun ray beaming through the window. God used my weakness to lean on him for strength! He proved to me that when I ask for help He can deliver because, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
Lord, thank you for helping me give my speech today without shaking or going blank. Please open my atheist teacher’s spiritual eyes to his need for Jesus Christ in his life!