Twenty minutes. The clocked stared down at me from its place on the shelf daring me to think of anything else. Twenty minutes until my life would change forever. Would change that is, if I said what the nagging voice within me kept prompting me to say. Twenty minutes until everything I had so carefully constructed and protected in my life crumbled right before my eyes.
“How on earth did I get into this mess?”
Unfortunately, the only answer I could come up with was from that voice that wouldn’t shut up. Lord knows I had tried to muzzle it in a hundred different ways. But no amount of amusement, worrying, or denial succeeded in quieting the persistent voice that kept pushing me toward this cliff I was about to step off the edge of.
Twenty minutes. In just twenty minutes I had agreed to sit in front of a group of complete strangers and allow my whole life to be exposed to the world; and for what? There certainly was no financial gain to be had from this. Fifteen minutes of fame? Who wanted or needed it? I knew I surely didn’t.
“Lord, I don’t want to be known. I don’t want to be remembered. I just want to be left alone.”
My spirit quieted for a moment like a man who had run out of breath screaming for help. My pulse pounded in my ears and my chest was as tight as the springs of the hard sofa I was sitting on. Why didn’t God answer? He got me in this mess in the first place. If I had listened to everyone else I wouldn’t even be here today staring at that blasted clock and worrying about what was about to transpire.
At last I regained enough composure to venture a little more. “Well, you could at least speak to me since you’re the one that got me to do this thing! All I want to do is live a peaceable life; you know, ‘live and let live.’”
My nerves were about to jump right out of my skin. I fidgeted and looked around the room for something to occupy my mind until those twenty minutes had passed. A couple of dated magazines with their covers half torn off lay on the coffee table but golf and sex for senior citizens didn’t appeal to me. I glanced at the lamp table beside me and saw a familiar book.
“Oh no! Not going to read that right now. That’s what got me in trouble in the first place.”
Then the voice, that ever present voice, interjected itself once again. “Pick it up and read. Then you will understand.”
Not wanting to listen but desperate for relief from my fears and anxiety I picked the book up and flipped through the pages without even looking down. Guess I decided to play Russian roulette with the book. Yea that’s it. I’ll just point and shoot. Whatever I read has to help me more than where I am now.
I said a half-hearted prayer. “Lord, let whatever I read be the answer I need.”
I took a breath, looked down and read. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus … whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things … practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.
The voice whispered quietly and lovingly, “You don’t have to go in that room alone and tell those people what you know. He will go with you and speak for you. He will be your peace.”
I looked at the clock and smiled. Twenty minutes had come and gone but I was no longer afraid. The voice still spoke but it no longer seemed an annoyance. Instead it wrapped its sound around me like a dear friend. Someone called my name and I, no, we entered the room together ready for whatever lay ahead.
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