A missionary friend of ours recently let it be known that she and her husband were praying about taking “a huge chunk” of an inheritance they had received and investing it in a small hotel in Bulgaria to further their missionary work. In her words, if they took this leap of faith, they would be risking their entire retirement nest-egg. The step would obviously be a major one for their family.
She titled her blog entry “Walking on the Water,” inspired by Peter’s impossible walk that is described in the Gospels. As I read about their initial steps out onto “the water,” I was struck by the question, “how do people get to the point where they would take such a huge step of faith?” Sometimes, it seems that people taking such steps are beyond the average person – almost super-saint-like.
I can tell you, though, that they are just average everyday people. So, the question remains: how do people like you and me come to the point where they are willing to take launch themselves into such leaps of faith?
If we are honest with ourselves, most of us feel like we’ll never take these sorts of risks at any point in our lives. Most of us have what seem to be insurmountable obstacles that would keep us from ever approaching this level of commitment to the Lord. Personally, I have two major obstacles to my faithfulness: stubbornness and fear.
My stubbornness comes in many disguises. I’m very good at busying myself with activity so I don’t “have time” to do what I know the Lord is asking me to do. I’m also good at taking on similar “safer” tasks to what I feel the Lord prompting me to do, so I can trick myself into believing I’m actually obeying Him faithfully. And, to be sure, I’m well accomplished at simply avoiding what I know He wants me to do.
Fear displays itself in a variety of places in my life. When attempting to act on what I believe the Lord is asking me to do, fear is everywhere. I fear what people will think of me, I fear how people will react if I do what He asks me to do, and, I fear the repercussions that might come my way if I do act. And, most of all, I fear failure. Indeed, the voice in my head that has often stopped me dead in my tracks is the one that bellows out “this will never work.”
So, how have I – and how can you – overcome the debilitating obstacles to obedience?
I believe we can find the answer in Scripture. Jesus gave us a clue when talking about faithfulness. He told His disciples that a person found faithful with the smaller things in life will eventually be entrusted with much more (Matthew 25:14-34.) In other words, if I faithfully “invest” what the Lord has given me – day in and day out – I will find Him trusting me with more . . . more resources to use for His work; more opportunity to share His love with others; and, yes, more than likely, the opportunity to “walk on the water,” i.e., to do things for Him that I’d never dreamed of doing.
How do we get there from here? How would we ever find ourselves giving up everything for God? Here are three quick suggestions I believe will get you going in the right direction.
- Start small! Recognize that obeying God can be done anywhere and in every situation. For instance, go encourage that co-worker when you don’t feel like doing it. Stop and help someone in need when everything in you says “keep going.” Say you’re sorry when you first “know” that you need to, instead of waiting. Get up off the couch and play with your kids when you don’t have the energy to. Help out at church where there’s a need. More than likely, it is God prompting you to do each of these things. The more you obey, the more you’ll learn to recognize his voice.
Practice obedience to God in these and other small things everyday; you will find that it comes easier and easier over time. And, don’t be surprised if you see bigger opportunities come your way.
2. Don’t believe that you’re not qualified or that you’re not the right person for the task. If God is asking you to do something, He’s given you what it takes to accomplish the task. Or, He’ll give you the ability to learn as you go. How often have we had the opportunity to tell someone about our relationship with the Lord, because we felt like we’d mess it up? Do you really think it would be better not to share than to hem and haw a little bit as we told someone about Jesus’ love? By the way,o you ever wonder why churches are always asking for children’s ministry workers? It’s not because there aren’t enough people in the church. Could it be that there are many people in their congregation who don’t think they’re the right person?
- Don’t worry about the outcome! Do yourself a favor; leave the results to God! If you find yourself not trusting Him to come through for you, get your nose in the Bible and read about His faithfulness. Your faith to go forward will be bolstered as you are reminded of His graciousness, strong arms, and dependability. And, become friends with humility. It takes time to get better at most everything God will ask you to do. Just because you’re not excellent at something doesn’t mean God wasn’t pleased with your work. A friend of mine once told me, God is pleased the moment you say, “yes.” He’ll take care of developing you over time.
The best thing about this process is that you can be obedient every day. Oh, you’ll have setbacks . . . we all do; that’s why the Lord died on the cross . . . none of us follow God anywhere near perfectly. We all need His forgiveness daily. But, the best thing about this process; the best thing about obeying in the small things; trusting that God is calling you to do things for Him; and, letting Him take care of the outcome, is that you’ll experience the joy of His love as you obey. You’ll recognize and experience His hand guiding you in all aspects of your life. And, just perhaps, you’ll find Him saying to you, “come out on the water.”
Be Blessed, RC