I knew deep in my heart what I needed to do next.
I had been praying for God’s direction for months. I spent time with my journal and my Bible, I talked about my struggle with trusted friends and I read everything I could get my hands on. Ideas were swirling around in my head, but the details were not yet clear. I wrestled with doubt and yearned for a guarantee of success. Before I took the first step, I wanted to know how everything would turn out.
I knew what to do, but I didn’t want to begin until all my fears were gone.
People of faith have a great excuse to stay stuck in neutral. When we are feeling nervous and unsure, we can always find a good reason to spend a little more time in prayer. After all, scripture repeatedly extols the virtues of waiting on the Lord. Psalm 27:14, among many others, reminds us of the courage sometimes found in waiting:
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Yet, if we are really honest, there are times we use prayer as an excuse. More often than we would care to admit, we know exactly what we need to do next but we are hoping the lump in our throat and the butterflies in our stomach will disappear FIRST. We want guaranteed results and happy endings.
But God wants us to obey scared.
One of my favorite stories in scripture is found as the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land after forty years of wandering in the desert. In order to enter the land of their dreams and destiny, they must first cross the raging waters of the Jordan River. Joshua 3 tells us that “it was harvest season and the Jordan was overflowing its banks.” Joshua and his people know they will need God’s help to get across the swollen river or they will drown in their attempts. Although God has every intention of stopping the river for them to cross, He tells Joshua the water won’t stop flowing until they wade into the river.
Before they saw the miracle, they had to get their feet wet.
Personally, I prefer to keep my feet dry. Raging rivers and deliverance I can’t yet see are not my cup of tea.
But I do love miracles. And, like the Israelites, I have grown weary of wandering in the desert when the Promised Land is just over the horizon.
So I am learning to obey scared. I focus on the next right thing, head in the direction of God’s voice and wade in.
Obeying scared might look like any of these:
- making that phone call
- signing up for the small group, retreat, or course
- getting the date on the calendar
- showing up at worship on Sunday, in spite of my church wounds
- sending that article
- starting the difficult conversation
- joining the gym or yoga class
- following through on the one thing I’ve been procrastinating- the one thing I KNOW I need to do
Heart pounding, lump in my throat obedience. Not comfortable, not certain, not clear. Trusting the still small voice saying “follow me.” No blueprints, no guarantees, just enough light for the step I’m on.
Dear friend, I know you are scared and I understand. I’m talking about obeying scared today because I have been living it continually in this season. Sometimes I ignore the beckoning and tune in to something louder to drown out the invitation. But more and more often these days, my curiosity gets the best of me and I grab hold of the offered hand and jump.
Conferences and training, a new church, speaking, teaching, writing, sending my book to a publisher- every new thing I have done in the last two years, I have done with a pounding heart and a lump in my throat. I can’t sleep the night before and I feel like I’m going to throw up as I take the first step. I tell you this because I am extremely skilled at looking confident and unafraid. My daughters are both actors and the proverbial apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
But don’t be fooled. Everybody we know is scared and we are all making it up as we go along. Messy, imperfect, faltering, one step forward, occasionally two steps back.
What is the whisper in your heart? What is the one thing you know you need to do, but you are still scared? What is the invitation God is offering?
You can trust Him. Step out into the raging waters. Obey Scared.