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And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.Mark 13:11
I have a longstanding, recurring nightmare. Three or maybe four times a year, I dream that I’m in a large auditorium filled with several hundred women, and I’m sitting up near the back row, and someone comes over and says, “You’ll start in about five minutes,” or words to that effect. And a sudden and horrible realization comes over me that I’m supposed to teach, and I either didn’t know or I forgot, and now I have five minutes to come up with an hour’s worth of teaching.
Oh, it’s awful. And I’ll bet it’s the same recurring nightmare every speaker has on occasion. Because the last thing you want to do, when you’re standing before an audience of people willing to listen to what you have to say, is to have nothing to say.
It does surprise me a little that I worry about that in my dreams, because thre have been dozens of times when I’ve prepared a teaching and my notes are sitting beside me while I’m worshiping with the other women, waiting for the cue that I’m to begin, and I’ll sense that God is changing directions. Once, knowing that God wanted to say something else, I threw out my notes and spent an hour in my car in the pouring rain rewriting an hour’s worth of teaching. I finished about two minutes before I was to speak. Another time, while teaching at a women’s retreat in Lake Tahoe, I felt a very clear direction to flip my notes over and listen. The Holy Spirit gave me four sentences. Four sentences. That’s all I took with me up to the podium, but somehow I spent a good 50 minutes sharing on those four sentences, and it was far better than the 9 pages I’d planned on sharing.
God knows the women better than I do. He knows what they need to hear, and He knows what they don’t. And I’ve learned over many years of teaching that if I get out of the way, the Holy Spirit will feed His women better food than I could come up with.
That’s not to say God endorses fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants teaching. The Word tells us to “study to show ourselves approved.” But I think now and then, He wants to remind us Who our audience belongs to, and Who empowers us to do any ministry at all.
Of course, a God who is able to give you words to speak to a roomful of hungry, Bible-loving women, can certainly give you the words you need to address your accusers. The instructions Jesus gives to His disciples here seem to me to echo what He told them back in Mark 6:7-9:
“And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belt …”
In other words, “I will provide what you need.”
And that’s what He’s instructing in Mark 13. “Don’t prepare a speech beforehand and don’t worry or become anxious. My words are better than your words. When you need an answer for our accusers, I’ll provide that answer.”
Having just watched Jesus so deftly shatter the traps laid before Him by the scribes, Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees, isn’t it humbling to know that He is willing to give you His words when you’re most in need?