Have you ever said that you were going to take “a leap of faith”? Although the phrase isn’t in the Bible, the idea of following God in faith is certainly Biblical, and there are times we may feel like we’re taking a leap. It doesn’t mean we are stepping out into the unknown; it merely means that we trust God.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
It’s likely if you feel God is asking you to act in faith, it will take you outside of your comfort zone. Feeling inadequate and completely unequipped to take on the task is not uncommon. The definition of leap is, jump or spring a long way, to a great height, or with great force.
Many of us might like to step (even take baby steps) into an obedient act of faith because a leap is a big deal. It is a commitment once started. There can be no reliance on self; reliance must be squarely centered on God.
That is where I am right now.
Let me be clear. I am not writing this from a position of, “Hey, I’ve got this all figured out…. listen to me." Instead, I am inviting you to walk into this with me and as I share my story, consider where God might be asking you to faithfully trust Him.
I have been on a faith journey over the last several months that has challenged me and shown me how God patiently and faithfully moves me in the right place at the right time; His timing is perfect.
My faith walk isn't new, and yours may not be either. The very foundation of what we believe hinges on faith. We believe in God by faith. We can’t see Him, but we know He is there. We receive our salvation by faith. It's not something we can put our hands-on, but we know because we get guidance from the Holy Spirit that lives in us if we have it. We believe in these things we can’t see, touch, or smell, but we have no doubt they exist.
The journey I’m talking about is a faith that takes us deeper in our relationship with our good Father. Consider this quote as we dig deeper.
R. C. Sproul said,
Believing God…not just believing in God. He will call us to be obedient to His direction in our lives, requiring us to move from knowing and acknowledging to acting. It takes us to a place of total and complete reliance on Him.
Those watching us may not understand what we are doing. Most likely, we don't see the entire plan as we take that initial leap. Indeed, this is the trademark of acting in faith.
At this point, you are probably wondering about this decision I’ve mentioned. For several months now, I have felt God calling me to retire from my 31-year teaching career and move into devoting myself to this ministry of writing. In all honesty, it has taken some time for me to realize this and accept it.
Teaching is what I am comfortable doing, and it has been a part of my identity all my adult life. I’ve had a hard time envisioning what my life would look like without teaching.
Writing publicly, on the other hand, takes me way outside of my comfort zone. I've been doing it for a prayer group at school, but to put myself out there in a position of vulnerability with people I don’t know…that terrifies me.
I haven’t taken this decision lightly because I wanted to be sure I’m interpreting God’s call correctly. It is prudent to make decisions with our eyes wide open, making sure not to ignore any guidance God is giving.
I’d like to share the steps I've taken on this journey with you.
Use Caution to Avoid Stumbling Blocks
I know myself well. Experience tells me there are two extremes that I must guard against when discerning God’s direction for me.
One extreme is to be so excited about something that I act before truly searching out God’s will. This is a place where my own ambitions can easily cloud my judgment. It seems like something good, and I want it so badly that it certainly must be God’s will. At times, I’ve wanted something so badly that I thought surely God wanted it for me. It’s taken time to reach the place where I realize just
because I think it is my heart’s desire doesn’t mean it fits God’s timing or plan for me. Those are hard lessons to learn.
The other extreme, and one that I struggle mightily with, is to analyze the situation to the point of never doing anything. I can think of every “what-if” situation that could ever arise. Some would call this analysis paralysis because it undoubtedly freezes me in place and keeps me from acting.
One reason for over-analyzing a situation is fear; it is a powerful weapon of the enemy. It causes us to stand still when God is telling us to move. The enemy knows us well; he knows our weaknesses, and he knows he can cause us to doubt God by using fear. He can render us ineffective by freezing us in our comfortable place.
1 Peter 5:8 reminds us to be on guard. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
One final caution is to guard against misplaced faith. This one is very sneaky. It happens when we don’t keep our focus on God but put it on something else. There are many things out there vying for our faith, but one example is our natural abilities. They are good, and God can use them. However, if we can complete the task without God, relying solely on our own skills, faith in God isn’t needed.
These are a few things that can really muddy the waters in discerning God’s call to act in faith, but the best way to avoid them is proper preparation.
Proper preparation allows us to discern God’s voice amidst all the noise and chaos that is going on in our lives.
Pray, pray, and pray again. God's timing is not our timing; therefore, sometimes His answers don't come as quickly as we would like. He doesn't always answer the way we think He should, but He will respond in a way that aligns with His will for our lives. We need to be persistent and consistent. Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)
Our heavenly Father never tires of hearing from us, and He wants us to be specific. God doesn’t need us to clarify for Him, but it does help us to more clearly understand what our needs are and to be able to identify when He answers our prayer.
Seek the counsel of trusted believers. In my own decision-making, I sought out friends that have made similar decisions to my own. This was helpful because they could get me out of the "weeds" of my own thinking and provide some perspective I hadn't considered. Their insight into the process helped me see the benefits and be aware of difficulties I will likely encounter.
Reflect on past times that God has been faithful. Over my career, I have made many changes. I’ve changed grade levels, schools, and even positions within my field. I often couldn't see the plan, but in hindsight, I can see God's hand was on each of the moves. He had something far more significant in mind than just a change in my job assignment.
Listen to God. Get quiet and hear what He is saying. His answers come in many different forms, a scripture, a word of wisdom from a friend or pastor, a song, or just a quiet voice. Our lives are so busy that we can easily overlook these things and miss God’s direction.
After you have spent adequate time preparing and hearing from God, it’s time to put action to the plan.
Likely, God isn’t going to lay out the whole plan at the start. Most often, He will illuminate one step at a time. The next step will come when He is ready to move you further.
This is hard for me. I like to see all the steps lined up in a nice, neat row, but that isn’t acting in faith; that is simply following directions.
My own decision to retire and move in a different direction has been overwhelming and perplexing at times. God has been good to me and shown me my first steps.
In November, I took the first step and started a blog. I knew nothing about starting a blog, so there was a huge learning curve. Additionally, I have committed
to posting a new piece of writing each week. This is difficult, especially while working full time. God has been so faithful to provide in ways I never imagined.
The second step was submitting my intent to retire at the end of this school year. The enemy frequently interjects and tells me I have made a mistake, but I turn my eyes back to God, and I am reassured.
The next step…I have no idea, but I am trusting Him to illuminate it when He is ready. While I wait, I will do my best to patiently and diligently serve right where I am.
Philippians 1:6 reminds me to keep me pressing on:
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
It is God's faithfulness to us that supports and empowers our faith in Him. We can always move boldly forward in whatever task God has asked us to complete. In the end, what a great gift to be counted as a faithful servant of our Lord.
Let’s connect. I’d love to hear from you. We can be an encouragement to each other in our acts of faith.
What steps are you taking to show genuine faith by your obedient actions?
What is God calling you to do that might take you outside of your comfort zone?
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