The biggest day of my life had arrived, and I was ready. After months of thought and preparation, I was about to deliver the student address at my high school graduation.
As soon as I was granted the responsibility to give this speech, the wheels in my mind started spinning. I went through several ideas and drafts, and I practiced my speech numerous times in front of my parents. I felt secure, knowing that I was fully prepared. No matter what calamity may befall me, I was too prepared to fail—or so I thought.
Before the actual graduation, my classmates and I needed to take group pictures. I wasn’t nervous about my speech at all; I was excited to share what I had produced—until I felt the start of a headache. Okay, it’s nothing, I thought, I’ll be fine. But as the photo session continued, my headache became more and more severe. That is when I had a frightening epiphany: It wasn’t just a headache, it was a migraine!
I seldom get migraines—maybe two or three times a year—but when they strike, they usually render me useless as a human being for about a day. Usually my hands or my feet will go numb at the start of a migraine, and as time goes on, I will lose all my energy.
This time, even my tongue started going numb. Perfect! I have to deliver the biggest speech of my life in an hour, and I can’t even feel my mouth. I started panicking, envisioning myself walking on stage, opening my mouth, and a jumble of slurred and fumbled words falling out. I wondered if I could soldier through or if I would stutter and slur my words to the point where I would not be understandable.
Amid all this panic, I started to think why God had allowed this to happen to me. Does God want me to fail? Does He want me to look like a fool in front of a huge crowd? But then I thought of the way I was thinking before this trial. I was so sure of myself, so confident in my speech and in my speaking ability that I had lost the right perspective. I was approaching it with the wrong attitude—thinking that I was the one who deserved all the glory that would surely come my way after I delivered my amazing speech.
I was completely reliant on myself, not God. But my migraine showed me that there was no possible way for me to deliver my speech without God’s intervention. As I tried to converse with my classmates, I slurred and stumbled over words left and right. No matter how hard I tried to concentrate, I could not even hold a conversation, much less give a ten-minute speech! With time ticking by, I knew that the only way to make it through was with God’s help. I said a brief prayer as we got into position for our walk down the aisle. As the music started, there was no turning back.
As I was introduced for my moment of either honor or humiliation, my stomach churned with a concoction of excitement and anxiety. I walked to the podium, mouth still numb. Deep breath—God’s with you. I started my stopwatch and spat out my first sentence. Surprisingly, I was speaking like a regular human being again! Realizing that my mouth had regained 99 percent of its function, I was able to speak just as I had in practice.
After finishing my speech, I returned to my seat elated. I received many compliments after the ceremony. One even went so far as to say that it was the best graduation speech he had ever heard. The whole time, I knew that I did not deserve the tiniest bit of credit; God was the only reason I was able to put a sentence together. The only way to true, lasting success is by getting God involved in everything (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I know now that God crippled my speech that night to make me rely on Him. Sometimes God will allow us to fall flat on our faces at things we think we are amazing at. Like burning a piece of toast, or striking out in a slow-pitch softball game, or forgetting to zip up your fly. Christ Himself said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.” Christ was perfect, yet even He could do nothing without God’s help!
If I had neglected God and tried to persevere through my speech on my own, it could have been the most humiliating experience of my life. But because I put my trust in God and asked for His help, He answered. Acknowledge God in all your activities, and He will never let you fail.