How Often Do You Choke Like I Did?


Do you "choke" on words as you evangelize? How will you respond when someone asks the reason for the hope within you?

Transformational Thought

Early in my psychiatric career, I learned something very important that I’d like to share with you. I was called into the ER for a very difficult situation, one that caught me by surprise. An angry patient threatened to hurt one of our nurses with a knife. Hospital security was there and the police were on the scene. The situation was volatile. Being the psychiatrist on call, the security guard and I were the ones tasked with ending the ordeal, one way or another. Thankfully, I was able to have a discussion with the man. He released our nurse and gave me his knife. We treated him for a brief time in that stage of his struggle, and then he went to jail to await trial.

Once the intensity lessened and everybody was safe, the nurse thanked me. Previously we had many interactions, but now she had a serious question, “How were you able to be so calm and clear to talk him down?” Here was my chance to share the source of my peace, but I didn’t want to seem arrogant or pushy. Without thinking I blurted out, “This is what I was trained to do and any psychiatrist or ER doc could have done the same thing.”

She had caught me off guard, so I gave her a lame answer. A few minutes later, I knew exactly what I could have shared about my source of peace, happiness and joy. She didn’t push me for more and I think she sensed my uneasiness with her question. But I could tell she was disappointed in my answer. Wow, so was I. Did that answer really just pop out of my mouth? It was as if someone asked me if I know Jesus, and I “pulled a Peter”—denying my association with Jesus. I can’t believe I choked. I wasn’t keeping it real or telling her the truth. Has this ever happened to you?

A few days after that encounter I was reading 1 Peter and came across 3:15, which instructs us to always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. I vowed I would never again deny my Lord when asked if I know Him.

Thankfully, God continued to bring odd (and sometimes dangerous), life-and-death situations in which I was able to utilize the gifts He has given me. I was usually asked by staff how I was able to handle and achieve favorable outcomes. In every one of those situations, I testified to God’s empowerment, giving me His peace, wisdom and discernment, as well as His blessing of special training. I would tell them that it was not my job to save or change the other person. I was just the vehicle, so I didn’t feel any pressure. The pressure was on God, so I was able to be at rest and have a front seat for His great performance.

It’s rare that someone asks such a direct question of us. But when it happens, scripture tells us to be ready. We are most ready when we see God in all things. You see, I am trying to grow my spiritual radar, my awareness of God, in all aspects of my life, 24/7. If we only connect with Him on Sunday, before meals or when we really need His help during stormy times, then we will only see Him as a small accessory in our life. And that small accessory is hard to find when the pressure is on and stress levels are high. It’s hard to find because we aren’t good at looking, or don’t remember to look. In reality, He is our life and is in all facets of our life. We can’t escape Him no matter how far we turn from Him, nor would we ever want to.

Today, think about how you will respond when someone asks the reason for the hope within you. Can you articulate to yourself the impact your faith and God’s actions have in your daily living? This is what we need to show and tell others. Whether you acknowledge Christ or deny Christ, it’s your decision, so choose well.


Dear Father, I come to You with a thankful heart. I recognize Your Son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and I trust Him for the strength I so desperately need to lead a God-pleasing life. Help me to speak when called upon to defend my faith and to spread Your message of forgiveness, faith, love and hope. Help me do so with gentleness and respect. Lord, help me to be a lighthouse for those in need. I pray with the authority granted to me through Jesus Christ. And all God’s people say AMEN!

The Truth

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear 1 Peter 3:15

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