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That Moment of Terror
September 27, 2011
It was an interesting and full yesterday. I’m still out here on the West Coast doing quite a lot of speaking. Yesterday began with preaching at chapel at The Master’s College. I realized as I was sitting there, just before the service began, that this is the first chapel service I’ve ever been to. It was a really nice service complete with great worship music and students who seemed really attentive while I preached on the importance of speaking truth with love, especially in the midst of all the communicating we do in this digital world. I really enjoyed the experience.
After chapel was complete I spent an hour in a class taught by Professor Grant Horner (he of the Bible-reading plan). Greg Koukl happened to be there as well and we spent the time talking to the students and answering their questions.
Later in the afternoon Lukas Van Dyke took me off to the middle of nowhere (almost literally) to do a photo shoot. There’s a magazine that is doing an interview with me in an upcoming issue and my friends have been mocking me that in every interview I do, there’s always the same old photo of me. I took this as a sign that it was time for some new ones. Lukas got all creative, setting me up in a field with a desk and chair. Weird but fun. I’ll show you the shots when they’re ready.
A bit later on I had dinner with Travis Allen and Phil Johnson (and their wives). Good times.
You know, I realized something about myself yesterday as I sat at the front of the gymnasium there at The Master’s College. I was just a couple of minutes away from going to the front—actually, the M.C. was just introducing me—and I realized, “I am absolutely terrified right now.” Not in the sense of pit-of-the-stomach butterflies or heart-pounding or anything like that, but more like that feeling I get when I’m on a roller coaster and heading up the first hill, the hill it will race down to gather all its speed. There hasn’t been a time, right near the top of that hill, where if there was an “undo” button—a button I could hit to return to the start—I wouldn’t hit it. I’d hit that button and get out of the coaster. Every time.
I remember that same feeling when I was a kid, jumping off a high diving board. I’d stand up there, gather my nerve, and jump. But in that moment after my feet left the board, I’d always undo my action if I could. I’d always get back on the board, if falling to the water wasn’t inevitable, if there was a way out.
Of course once you’ve left the diving board there is no going back; once you’ve started up the hill, the coaster can’t return to the station. And once you are at the front of the room being introduced, there’s nothing to do but go up front and preach. I couldn’t hit the undo button, so I went up and spoke and enjoyed it even. But that moment is an interesting one, that moment where I feel something that is very close to terror. I don’t know if this is something most people experience or something unique to me as a shy individual and one who has no desire to be in the limelight or to be the one that everyone is looking at. It doesn’t last for long, but it is very nearly overwhelming in those few moments that I experience it. I don’t know that there are too many places in life where I have a more tangible experience of the Lord’s grace and favor than right there.