Excerpt from Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson: B&H Publishing, 2019.
“The first few times I was in a position of leadership at a retreat or conference I was so nervous I could hardly speak. When my dear friend Kenny Woodhull asked me to co-lead a retreat with Michael Card about fifteen years ago, I declined. Putting on a concert is one thing; I could do that. But teaching? Speaking? Leading? Clearly Kenny had the wrong guy. But he talked me into it. At the first session of that retreat, after Michael gave his brilliant introductory thoughts, it was my turn to say a few words. I stammered as I told them that I felt unqualified, but that I had to trust something George Macdonald once wrote about the inner chamber of God’s heart:
‘As the fir-tree lifts up itself with a far different need from the need of the palm-tree, so does each man stand before God, and lift up a different humanity to the common Father. And for each God has a different response. With every man he has a secret—the secret of the new name. In every man there is a loneliness, an inner chamber of peculiar life into which God only can enter . . . a chamber into which no brother, nay, no sister can come. From this it follows that there is a chamber also—(O God, humble and accept my speech)—a chamber in God himself, into which none can enter but the one, the individual, the peculiar man—out of which chamber that man has to bring revelation and strength for his brethren. This is that for which he was made—to reveal the secret things of the Father.’
That is to say, you know and understand things about the heart of God that only you can teach. Once I was in a counseling session with my dear friend Al Andrews, working through a painful season of my childhood. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” I said with a sniffle. “My brother and sisters don’t seem to carry this same pain, and we were all there at the same time, in the same house.” Al said, “If I were to interview four siblings about their childhoods, they would each describe a completely different family.” Your story, then, is yours and no one else’s. Each sunset is different, depending on where you stand. So when the voices in my head tell me I have nothing to offer, nothing interesting to say, I fight back with George MacDonald.
Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2). Could it be that those rooms are inner chambers in the heart of God, each of which has an individual’s name on it? If this is true, and I’d like to believe it is, then all I have to do is tell about my Lord and my God. Because I know him intimately, uniquely, it may be a revelation, in a sense, of the secret things of the Father. This is part of my calling—to make known the heart of God. And because he holds a special place in his heart for me and me alone (just as he holds a special place for you), my story stands a chance to be edifying to my sisters and brothers, just as your story, your insight, your revelation of God’s heart, is something the rest of us need.”
Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend.