Ready Line

I wanted a two-minute heads up about the questions. No such luck. The camera rolled.

Have you ever been at a loss for words? Or wish you could rewind the tape and have a do over? Unless you were just born, my hunch is that we’ve all been in these situations–maybe daily.

I was due for one of these. My turn came again last week. As Inigo Montoya, my favorite fencing Spaniard says, “Let me ‘splain.” I work for a community-based anti-drug coalition. We’ve gained some experience dealing with prevention of drugs such as methamphetamine. It’s always a struggle, but we’ve collected war stories to go with the community scars.

Through a process I won’t detail here, the news program Nightline heard about our coalition’s meth prevention efforts and those of law enforcement drug task forces in our part of the state. They decided to come talk to people in our area for a few days. …Including me.

Now, before you rush out to track down my autograph, I’ll say that if my boss had been in town, they would’ve interviewed her. I was Default Chick. Nonetheless, I was up to bat and felt twinges of nervousness and confidence. I knew my part (if it survives the cutting room) will be just a smidgen of the final product for national TV. But that added more pressure; I’d better prepare and get it right. The comments I offered would reflect on my community. So I did what any smart professional does in this situation: I went shopping.

With that crucial task out of the way, I set about preparing my responses to likely questions. With help from my boss, I went over and over our most recent, relevant stats. I mentally formulated sound bite summaries. I beckoned my inner child–who was a huge ham–to gain confidence. I was ready.

Interview day came. With last-minute review sheet in hand and lipstick in place I met the crew at a local park. For this session they would interview our mayor, then me. It was all so low key and uneventful. Sure, it was interesting watching the process with cameras, being wired with a microphone, etc., but in reality it was so casual. I could handle this.

Then it was my turn. I was a mixture of calmness and stomach flutters. They stood me several feet in front of the camera. The crew clustered behind camera and reporter. Without warning, the camera rolled and the questions came. Surely all of my preparation would pay off now. And…I have almost no idea if it did. Do you ever go into a zone and then not know later what happened exactly? My hunch is that when editors review this footage, they’ll see Deer-in-Headlights Girl spouting off incoherent statistics. “Um, yes, the past-30 day use of meth correlates with the seven-day forecast for Boise, according to our analysis.”

Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad (though it might be!), but I do harbor a morbid sense of curiosity about what was captured on film.

One thing’s for sure: I’ll keep my little review sheet handy for when I need it for various reasons on short notice. I see the value of always being prepared.

That’s helpful for we as Christians, too. We never know when God will lead us to something during our day–a person, situation–where being prepared with His answers will be needed. Second Timothy 4:2 (NIV) says, “Be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.” Yes, Paul intended this for a pastor, but it holds water for us, too. We can’t predict what God has for us each day. Questions about our faith could ambush us, or a hurting friend may need a shoulder.

We can be ready for “divine appointments” through a couple of key means. First, we can feast on His word each day. I’m focusing on “feast” and “each day.” We’re busy people, but chowing down on the scriptures regularly, rather than nibbling politely on Sundays, will always reap huge rewards in time. Isn’t it amazing how we’re talking with someone and a certain passage or topic comes up. “I was just reading about that in my Bible,” you say. Discipleship’s discipline meets God’s opportunities. His purposes are worked out.

Similarly, we can feast our on time with Him. As I spend time with Him and submit, He works on my armor as we talk, repairing the shield, cleaning my sword, arming me in almost imperceptible ways. Then I’m ready “in season and out of season,” drawing on what He’s given me just when it’s needed. I can fight temptation with a rebuke or offer encouragement to a wounded soul. He supplies the ready line, and I am content to be used.

So, here’s my question for you: what are some other ways you’ve found to be ready for “divine appointments”? Or I’d love to hear about a situation when God used you unexpectedly.