A conversation I had with a Croatian friend of mine during our first year of college in the US stands out. She said, “Sikhu, I don’t understand why Americans ask, ‘how are you?’ when they don’t really want to hear your answer!” She would actually take the time to craft a meaningful response to their question, but by the time she opened her mouth, they had already moved on.

Over the years, I’ve developed quick responses designed to be more descriptive of my true state of being. For instance, “I’m awake” = Waking up was rough, this morning, but here I stand nonetheless/I’m really sleepy and would like to get to bed soon! Or, “Can’t complain” = Things aren’t going the way I’d like but because I trust God is in control, any complaints would be unwarranted. So when I say that “I’m doing well, actually,” it means that I’m actually doing well!

Another one of those #Idon’treallyexpectananswer questions is the post-vacation “how was break?” or in my case, for those that know I went to GYC, it’s “how was GYC?” My quick response for that one has been, “It was different!” Sometimes people actually want to know how GYC was for me, and they’ll inquire further as to my meaning, but sometimes, it was just a conversation filler (and that’s ok!) For those who are actually interested in knowing what GYC was like for me this year, I’ll share a bit of my experience.

For starters, although I’ve always volunteered for GYC, this year was a different kind of volunteer experience. You see, several months ago, JMac called and invited me to be the morning devotional speaker for the Conference. After talking with God, a LOT, about it, I agreed to do it, only if 1. He wouldn’t make me do it alone i.e. He’d be with me the whole way and 2. He’d be fine with it being me up there speaking – I couldn’t be anyone other than myself and I’d do it if He was fine with that.

The first morning I had to speak, I was so scared. So I just kept reading the texts that bring me comfort anytime I have to speak for God (Ex 4:12, Jer 1:4-9). Standing there in front of everyone, the thought struck me, “this wasn’t a joke! it’s for real I’m supposed to speak now!” Then I remembered God’s instruction to Jeremiah not to be afraid of their faces and the fear dissipated.

I must not have gotten enough sleep that night because waking up was very challenging the next morning. By the time I had to speak, my mind felt so foggy, I had no clue if what I was about to say would make sense. Praying that God would help me, I went up and, after the fact, I knew God had helped me because my mind was clear the whole time I was up there.

But then day 3 and 4 of speaking came with challenges unique to any of the times I’ve ever spoken in public. Never, before, had I preached while sick but on that Sabbath morning, I woke up and my body was just not right. The fever that had started the night before hadn’t broken, my body ached and I knew I’d need God’s help in a unique way.

Having spent the day resting, I hoped my body would be back on my side Sunday morning but that was not to be the case. When I woke up Sunday morning, my voice was gone. Now, music was always my thing growing up, and I’ve had situations where I had to sing a solo but I was so sick I had no voice, yet when the critical time came, a voice emerged. But never before had this happened to me before preaching. And singing a 3-5minute song is one thing…preaching for 45minutes is quite another!

Many prayers were ascending in my behalf that morning and God came through once again. No voice before and after speaking, but the record shows that something came out of my mouth that morning.

I have committed and continue to commit the messages that God used me to share at this past conference. Maybe they can help someone in their spiritual journey. In the miraculous way God works, I know it’s quite possible they could bless someone.

But as for me, I learnt a new way of depending on God at this past conference. I learnt that if we give Him our meagre selves, He could do something miraculous in our behalf. I learnt that even though I’m so small and, in the broad scope of things, apparently insignificant, God would condescend to let me work with Him. I learnt that it really is sweet to trust in Jesus.

So for me, this year, GYC was way different!