Step Out With Courage

We dream of being courageous. But we also want to play it safe. So what would it take for us to put away our fears, heed our inner desires, and step out of our comfort zone?

A soldier pushes forward into battle, despite a friend’s death minutes before. Firemen maneuver through a building, surrounded by scorching heat as they search for survivors. A man stands between angry gang members and their bloody victim. Such are examples of physical courage and bravery in the face of danger or harm.

A teen says no to peer pressure when being tempted for the first time to smoke a cigarette, drink, or use drugs. A mother draws upon whatever courage she has in order to leave an abusive situation, not knowing how she and her kids will survive. An employee refuses to follow his manager’s unethical instructions, knowing he could lose his job. Moral courage comes with making a choice and doing what's right.

But spiritual courage may even be more powerful and life changing. It’s the type of courage you draw upon when you listen to the voice of God in the quiet of your heart, and despite your fears, follow His lead.

Ellen loves to sing with the church choir, and one evening during rehearsal, the director asks her to sing a solo, assuring her the music will bless the congregation. Although terrified, she agrees. That Sunday, she waits with clammy hands, feeling nauseous. What if her voice cracks? What if nothing comes out? Despite her trepidation, when the time arrives, she steps out in front of the choir, and waits for the intro to be played. As soon as she begins to sing, a warm peace washes over her.

Cindy attends church regularly, helps with the nursery every other Sunday, and is an active member in the women’s Bible study group. She has no trouble talking about her faith when she’s with friends from the church, but is praying for courage to be bold about her relationship with the Lord outside of her own group. One day, while at work, she joins a number of people gather around a large table for lunch. A co-worker rants about his religious neighbors, and then complains about hypocritical Christians. Cindy’s heart races and her cheeks warm, but she feels the tug to speak. She silently prays, steps into the conversation, and gentle words draw the attention of those around her.

Michael is a CEO for a large company, pulling in a comfortable salary for several years. Lately he can’t seem to get his mind off an idea for developing a youth center in the inner city, where kids could hang out after school and be mentored. Michael and his wife pray about it, and both come to the decision as to what God is leading them to do. Despite friends and colleagues advising them not to, they begin implementing a plan. They quit their jobs and sell almost everything they own in order to fund the project. They move from being accustomed to a large income to living off their savings. They have no idea of what the future will hold, but they step out with courage, believing God will provide.

Have you been in a similar situation, yourself? Sometimes God asks us to do things outside of our comfort zone. You may think there’s no way . . . it’s too scary. People will laugh at me. I’ll fail. I don’t have the skills. I’ll look stupid. It’s too crazy. We all can find excuses to say no to what God has laid out before us.

There’s no sin in being afraid. It’s how we respond to that fear. With courageous trust in God—or self-preservation—that makes the difference.

Spiritual courage is using the talents and gifts God has given you, even when you may be afraid that you’re not good enough.

Spiritual courage is answering the call God dialed into your heart, despite how crazy the world may view it.

By finding the courage to sing, Ellen may embrace that God entrusted her with a musical gift in order to help mend hearts and heal broken people.

Cindy may experience coworkers seeking her out, wanting to learn more about this Jesus she talks about. And she may learn that sharing your faith can sometimes be more about listening to people and bearing their burdens, than preaching the gospel.

Michael? Well, he may discover that to live the life you’re called to live—to serve God fully—and to follow the passion of your heart, may be the greatest adventure of all. No prestigious job title or large bank account can compare.

And what about you?

Are you ready to leave your comfort zone—your safe place—and step out with courage?

When you are fearful, remember . . .

* God commands that we be courageous.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.” (Jos. 1:9 NIV)

* God is the one responsible for the outcome. No matter how frightened we may be, we can trust that He’ll be at our side.

“Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Jos. 1:9 NIV)

* He’ll give us the strength we need to be courageous.

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24 KJV)

Have a great week!


You're Worth More

Lately, I’ve been awakened at 5:30 in the morning. Not by my alarm clock. Not by the noisy truck that resides across the street. And not by my early rising husband. (He’s already at work by then.) So what has me stirring from deep sleep at that time of day? Song. The birds outside my bedroom window beginning their morning concert.

Some people may be annoyed, thinking of the vocals as only noise disturbing their sleep. Not me. I especially love when the weather becomes warm enough that I can keep the bedroom window open. The fresh air and song birds let me know that spring has arrived. The long, dreary winter is over. My yard comes back to life with blossoming trees and flowers springing from the ground.

The sights, sounds, and smells of nature have a way of reconnecting me with God. They remind me that He is bigger than the stress or demands of the corporate world, the physical pain of illness, or the emotional turmoil that comes with broken relationships. Being in touch with creation helps keep things in perspective for me.

A bird’s song makes me feel peaceful - content. It’s like receiving assurance from God that He’s watching over me. Luke 12: 6-7 says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (NIV)

Next time you hear to a bird singing, take time to listen and enjoy. God is with you.

Have a great week!


Preparing Your Fields for Rain

I recently watched Facing the Giants, a movie about faith and football. In the story, a coach at a Christian high school faces the possibility of his losing his job, while also struggling with disappoints on the home front. But when he puts his life in God's hands and focuses on honoring Him, the coach’s desires are realized.

I took away several profound statements from this film. One of them was made by a man in the community who routinely walked the halls, praying as he passed the lockers of every student in the school. He told the coach that he should go ahead and prepare the fields in expectation of rain. What he meant was that the coach should continue serving, sharing Christ, and mentoring those kids, (preparing the fields) and God would bless him, his family, and the team (the rain).

If we desire something and believe it to be within God’s will for our lives, we need to believe that God will bless our work. But first, we need to do our part so God can do His.

I realized that this was exactly what my husband and I had done – we'd prepared our fields. It had been a long-time desire of mine to work full time from home - writing and editing. For the past year and a half, he worked overtime to help us financially prepare for that transition. During that time, I worked nights and weekends, laying a foundation to launch a freelance editing business. I prayed for the business, and for the clients God would provide. Recently, the timing felt right to leave my day job. We took a huge leap of faith - both feeling at peace about our decision. God blessed us with providing editing work before I even gave notice that I was leaving the company where I was employed.

What we accomplished was very exciting for us – but we couldn’t have done it without working together and God blessing our efforts. We prepared our fields for rain. We plowed, sowed seeds, and weeded, believing God would send the rain needed for our fields to grow and flourish.

Perhaps there is something you have a desire to accomplish. A goal – or something you feel called to do.

Does it feel impossible? Does it feel out of reach? Maybe it's not.

Search your heart. Seek God. If it still feels compelling for you – prepare your own fields. Then step out in faith, believing that God will bless your efforts and hard work.

Have a great week!


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