I’d never addressed a crowd of 40,000 people before.
The family and faith days that I speak at attract probably seven or eight thousand people. Attendance at my church isn’t even close to 40,000! It’s a couple thousand at the most.
So I thought I was pretty prepared, but there’s nothing quite like addressing 40,000 or more people. And not only was I addressing 40,000 people, but I was addressing them through a microphone that has a delay to it! I was already a little bit nervous, and on top of that, I was hearing myself echo as I spoke. It’s so hard to talk when you’re hearing yourself! It’s almost impossible for your mind to keep a thought. You’re trying to focus, but you’re hearing what you just said at the same time as you’re trying to come up with the next thing to say!
Now I realize why a lot of people like to have a speech in front of them. When there’s a delay like that, they can keep their eyes focused on what they’re saying. But I don’t like doing that. In fact, I hate reading speeches. When I read a prepared speech, it takes away from the passion of what I’m trying to say.
So there I was, trying to stay focused with my voice echoing back at me.
And if that wasn’t enough pressure, those 40,000 people actually listened to me. Seriously, when I came up to the microphone to speak, the place literally went dead silent. It wasn’t like, “Hey, Jeremy’s talking, but whatever, let’s go get a beer.” You know, normally there’s a constant buzz in the stands. But this was different. They listened.
So I wasn’t speaking into a microphone while no one was paying attention. I had the attention of 40 thousand people! Literally listening to what I had to say! Man! And I knew one thing for sure: In that situation, if it goes bad, it’s going to go really bad. Especially in San Francisco, where people have a love for humanity. If you misrepresent that, you’re going to hear about it.
So I said, “God, there is no way I’m going to do this in my own power here. This has to be You.” I was representing the two organizations, and I was representing the Stow family, but more than that, I was letting the light of Jesus shine before men, that they may see my good deeds and glorify God. (1 Peter 2:12)
I don’t want to be glorified through this. I want people to say, who is this cat? Who is this guy? He’s a baseball player, but he speaks with a different kind of voice. Who is he? And eventually, through trying to figure out who I am, they’re going to see God. That’s what I want. I want them to see the face of Jesus, because that’s who drives me.
Come back Tuesday, and I’ll give you the rest of the setup. This was a wonderful opportunity that was actually more pressure than pitching. Meanwhile, HAPPY EASTER!