January 28, 2010

Oratorical Contest

I thought I would post my speech script for ICC's Oratorical Contest, in case any of you either wanted to know what it was about, or read it though you already heard me give it last week. :) The theme (if I haven't already told you) is "Awakening: Rise Up. Reach Out." Oh stories, rushing into my head! ...

Since I only wrote this up today, and was working from an outline before, this is not the speech I gave in the prelim round. It's as close as I can remember to the one I gave in finals. And it's definitely not quite the same as the one I gave to everyone on Thursday night. (Breathes, remembering...) I think now is as good a time as any to tell you who weren't there about it. Here's the summary:

Me: I don't understand love!
Michael: We question things we already understand.
Me: I don't understand!
Avery and Michael: :sympathy:
Me: I hate that I keep doubting God.
Tim (about him and Michael): We can't tell you to stop questioning, we're philosophers. It goes against our moral code.
Me: I wish I could feel God.
God: :is:
Me: ... (I am answered)
Devin: And the winner of the 2010 ICC Oratorical Contest is... Rebecca Au! Are you ready to give your speech?
Me (in my mind): Never have I been more ready. No time has ever been as good as this one to speak.

And then I got to give my speech one more time, and tell everyone how I don't understand but how God is the answer to every doubt in my heart. It was wonderful.

Reading the speech is never going to be the same as hearing it, but here it is nonetheless.

Do you know what it’s like to live a day on an airplane? Just about two weeks ago, my family and I flew back to America from Malaysia, where we had been visiting some relatives. Because of the direction the plane flew, I ended up having a thirty-seven-hour-long day. When it was eleven pm according to Malaysian time, I finally slept. I was exhausted.

For some reason, I woke up a few hours later and opened up my window shade. Light flooded into the dark airplane. Outside, I saw the frothy clouds below me, and the steady patterns of the great wide water. The best part was the bright band of orange that streaked across the horizon. I just sat there, breathing in the sunrise.

The next thing I was aware of was a stewardess coming up to my chair. She said, “Excuse me. Could you shut that window? Everyone else is asleep.” Those words bounced around in my mind. Everyone else is asleep.

While it’s usually impolite to disrupt the cycle of waking and sleeping that people follow in their everyday lives, the soul requires no sleep. So when we’re talking about a spiritual or metaphorical awakening, the worst thing is to pull down the shade and block out the light.

And yet, so often we choose to walk in darkness. Or, we just find ourselves there without knowing why. It seems like I’m always crying out, I don’t understand! I don’t know what it means to love others; I don’t know what to do with my future; I am, so often, lost. I believe that God is the light that makes me see and I believe that He is the answer to all of my questions, but it is still so hard to know it for myself.

What saddens me is that there are people who don’t even realize they are asleep. This fall, I had the opportunity to take a philosophy class at my county college. One of my classmates, Chris, was very much a relativist. He thought that truth is merely whatever works for him. I asked him, “What if you’re wrong? What if people don’t decide truth?” He replied that it was easier for him to believe this way. I don’t think he cared if he was right. He is like a sleepwalker, and one day, all of the world that he walks in will come falling apart.

I desperately want – for both myself and for people like Chris- to be awake, and to be able to hold on to truth. God’s truth, the light that wakes us up, is always shining, but the way that we are able to realize it is by faith. Sometimes the only truth I can understand is what John Newton summarized when he said, “I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” To stay awake, I need to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

When I first started contemplating the theme, I could conceive of understanding the idea of awakening, and I sympathized with the need to rise up. But, “Reach Out”?? How am I, who am still struggling to keep awake, supposed to reach out to others? I’m realizing that I can’t wake up others. All I can do is to let God’s light shine through my brokenness.

I believe that everything happens for a purpose, and God is writing his story into our lives. To let light shine, we just have to speak the truth to people, and tell them what God has been teaching us. Tell them what you know, and what you don’t know. All we can do is speak the truth.

So leave your window shade open and let the light pour through. Even if – especially if – everyone else is asleep. Because it is the light that makes everything visible.


Daughter of the King said...

Can I paste this into a word document and share it with someone? You communicate that you understand more than you know.

Art said...

Wow, thanks for the compliment Renee! I'd be glad for you to send it to someone. :)

Daughter of the King said...

Thank you, for speaking with boldness.

Michael said...

Oh! New layout. I really like it!

I feel kind of bad for not commenting on the speech, but you already know what I think about that.