I had another post planned for today to help equip you to live an authentic life. I love hearing from all of you who let me know the faith challenges you face. I then prayerfully plan posts, podcasts, and other resources (in the works) to help you get clarity and confidence for living the Christian life. But today I wanted to share a few thoughts about how to get there from here.
I’ve recently had a number of conversations with people seeking clarity on life direction, something we all crave.
As I was talking with one friend, a reader of this blog, we realized how much easier it is to encourage someone else to step out and follow God’s calling than it is to do so ourselves.
We come up with all manner of pious reason not to take the step ourselves. And, I must confess, must of it comes either from a fallen place within us or from the fallen Deceiver who wants to destroy us.
Our excuses are often merely pious code for disobedience.
We Don’t Know What We Think We Know
So many of us live in fear of what might happen if we were to step out of our comfort zone. We think we know the risks we face here but don’t know the risks we might face there.
But is that really true?
How confident are we that we know what will happen next if we stay where we are instead of stepping out? How stable is that job? How unwavering is that relationship? How certain are you that your health will always be as good as it is today?
The truth is, we only think we know. Our present life is in the process of changing around us all the time.
There was once a time when we did not feel so secure about our present circumstances. But then we got used to it, and it became the new normal. But if we step out to faithfully follow God, we develop a new normal there, as well.
Matthew Montonini puts it this way: “We become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Even if our comfort makes us miserable, our perception keeps us there because we know what to expect.”
The bottom line is that the clock is ticking. Our story is being written every day, and we only have so much time to be sure it is one worth telling for all eternity.
If I can use an American football analogy, so many of us think we can play prevent defense in this life. Perhaps we experience a little success early on in our walk with Christ. It’s as if we kicked a field goal for 3 points in the first quarter and then try to hold on to those 3 points with all our might.
Instead of trying to win, we try to not lose. But the opposite of not losing is not winning.
God didn’t put us here to run out the clock. He didn’t call us to settle, but to follow.
No one ever talks about that awesome football game where the team ran out the clock for 3 quarters trying to hold on to a 3-point lead. No one.
If you want to live a story worth telling you must realize this truth: you can’t stay where you are and get where you want to go.
What Started My Own Journey
There is power in making a commitment to change.
In May 2010, I made the commitment to God to put my writing gifts to work. I didn’t tell anyone at the time.
I recall teaching on the power of commitment then and, in the back of my mind, I knew I had made a commitment that would have implications I did not yet fully understand. But I determined then to find a way to do what I believed God had called me to do.
The decision made all the difference. I felt like the author of the words of that hymn we don’t hear much anymore: “I have decided to follow, Jesus. No turning back.”
At the time, I wrote down the following quotation from William Hutchinson Murray on an index card and put it where I could see it everyday:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.
Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Begin it now.
I cannot even begin to tell you just how true that statement has proven to be in my own life.
Because I had made that commitment, for example, I had an idea for inviting Hugh Hewitt to our school. And then I had an idea for turning his invaluable book which I had taught for a decade into a revised version of In, But Not Of with a study guide. [The Leader’s Guide for small group study is available for free here.]
And that turned into a project and friendship with Hugh, connections with others who became friends which opened doors — and so it goes. Now my next book with Erick Erickson is due out in a few weeks — and it all started with that commitment in May, 2010. [The book launch team is still open until 11:59 PM Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Apply here. ]
I could never have predicted what could have come from that commitment, because I could not have imagined it prior to my stepping out to pursue it.
Why We Don’t Step Out
The reason we don’t see how it might be possible to step out is because we have not stepped out.
When we are in motion, our perspective changes. We can see things that were hidden to us before, blind spots we never knew existed, opportunities we never dreamed could appear.
It’s not that most of us don’t dream. We do. It’s not that we don’t have some inkling of what it is we could or should be doing.
All too often, we do. We’re just afraid to do anything about it. We fear the worst-case scenario will occur.
But can I tell you a secret? The worst-case scenario almost never, and I mean never, actually happens. It is largely a product of our own imagination. [See my series How to Stop Being Afraid.]
You are not alone, my friend. If you are struggling to move forward, I get it.
What I can assure you is that if you are willing to make the commitment and step out with the light that you have, God will make His way straight before you.
If only you believe….
Question: What commitments do you need to make in order to pursue what God is calling you to do? What is the first step you need to take to live a story worth telling where and when it matters most? Share your thoughts by clicking here.