At the hands of Jennifer …The confession of a communicator

by DanWolgemuth on May 3, 2013

There were two completely full tables of individuals that never looked at me.

I stood behind the lectern and addressed an audience in Frederick, Maryland – only to discover that a significant group of individuals were paying no attention to me. In fact, their eyes and attention were locked on Jennifer.

Jennifer was a competent and enthusiastic interpreter. Her language? Sign language.

The Youth for Christ ministry in Central Maryland is vibrant and impactful at Maryland Deaf School, and so many of our advocates, friends and supporters attended the annual fundraising banquet as a tangible demonstration of their support.

My words found a home in the hands of Jennifer whose job it was to convert my verbalization into motion. Even as I referenced members of the deaf contingent, their eyes remained fixed and focused – on Jennifer.

Periodically I would glance to my right, as I panned the room in front of me. Without exception, all eyes were locked, and not on me. At first I found it unnerving, but in the course of 30 minutes I found it to be beautiful and appropriate.

John 14:6 was my text: Jesus said to him (Thomas), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

The experience rapidly became a metaphor, and the metaphor became a lesson plan – and not for the audience, but for me.

My message, rightly and humbly communicated, pushes the gaze of those I lead, of those I serve, of those I communicate with… off of me.

I’m afraid that it’s possible, and at times desirable, that even as I communicate the message of Jesus and the truth of the Gospel I am “pleased” that the eyes of the crowd are on me? This reality breaks me, and convicts me – as it rightly should.

The echoes of the words from John 14:6 reverberated through the hands of Jennifer. Her silent competence pounded the reality of my calling deeply into my soul.

My effectiveness most appropriately should be measured by where the eyes of those who follow me gaze. Is it me or is it Jesus? Is it my compelling delivery or the unconstrained message of the Gospel? Am I content, or willing, or delighted, or honored if the people in the room never see me?

Only Jesus. Always Jesus. Through the hands of Jennifer.

No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.

In the classroom, even as I stood in the front of the room.

Through the silence, in the silence, because of the silence – I heard my Master.

More of Jesus. So much more of Jesus – and yes, less of me.

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