How many times has fear kept you from doing something? All of a sudden those “What if” thoughts flood in, your tongue swells up, you get that acids taste in the back of your throat and then your body won’t move. Your mind says you want to, or you should, but your body doesn’t cooperate. It happens to all of us, especially when we’re called to do something by faith. You feel the nudge to tell someone God loves them or to share your faith, but nothing cooperates and they walk away. Something inside says to give them money, but by the time you convince yourself to grab your wallet, you look up and they’re gone. You hear about going on a mission trip, but you’re waiting to “hear from God” and the deadline passes. We like to say, “Faith over fear,” but the reality is that fear stops us from acting in faith pretty often.
I can’t help but think of the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5. I can imagine the fear she must have had, the thoughts that told her it was a silly idea or the what if doubts that could have kept her from touching Jesus. But in verse 28, she overcame those fears with another thought, “If i could just touch the hem of His garment, I’ll be healed.” Her need for healing became greater than her fear and propelled her to action, and now she’s forever enshrined in the Bible as a lesson of pushing past fear. She’s an example to each of us in turning fear into action and a reminder that we’re often one step away from receiving what God has for us. She pushed through a crowd and her fears, and we can too.
Hebrews 10:39 reminds us, “But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!” (TPT) Your identity in Christ is rooted in actionable faith, not paralytic fear. To beat that fear, you need to act quickly when the Holy Spirit prompts you to do something. Decide now so there won’t be a debate in your head later. Everything inside you may feel like it’s on fire, but press through and act on the prompting. Have a phrase ready like, “God loves you, “ say it and walk away. If they call out, stick around. You may end up blessing them more. Whatever it is that fear keeps you from, and whenever it starts to paralyze you, remind yourself that as a Christian, you are not held back by fear. We act on faith and experience God’s blessings and true, abundant life because of it.
Every one of us likes to know what our strengths are. We take those silly tests on social media to find out which character we are so we can read about the good things in us. You may have even taken the Clifton Strengths Finder assessment to find out your top five strengths. I loved finding out what mine were, but do you want to know what we don’t want to know? Our weaknesses. We don’t like to focus on those because we see them as things that hold us back, minimize our potential and become a detriment to our productivity. However, they’re the things that I tell leaders to know and understand just like their strengths so they can build well balanced teams. I think we should be focused on our strengths, but be aware of our weaknesses.
Usually our strengths are God-given talents that have been developed over a lifetime. He uses those to place us where He wants us and to help us accomplish our purpose. What I also know about God is that He loves using our weaknesses to do great things. You see, when He accomplishes something through our weakness, we can’t claim it was us who did it. We’re forced to rely on Him and His strength. Acts of faith are rarely done through our strengths. That’s why we always feel like we can’t do something God is asking us to do or feel inadequate. If you have those feelings, you’re right where He wants you. Take that leap of faith, embrace your weakness and trust Him to use His strengths through your weaknesses.
Here are some Bible verses on finding His strength in your weakness.
1. If I must boast, I will boast of the things that reveal my weakness [the things by which I am made weak in the eyes of my opponents].
2 Corinthians 11:30 AMP
2. So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness.
Hebrews 4:16 TPT
3. He remembered us in our weakness. His faithful love endures forever.
Psalms 136:23 NLT
4. But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 GNT
5. So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship. And strengthen your weak knees, for as you keep walking forward on God’s paths all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!
My son, who is in elementary school, is having to read Pilgrim’s Progress. I remember having to read it at a young age too. Quite honestly I think it should be required reading for every Christian adult because there is so much depth to it. In it, Christian Pilgrim reads about Heaven and begins his journey to find Christ. On the way he meets people like Evangelist and Helper who guide him toward the Celestial City. He also encounters people like Worldly Wiseman, Despair and Formalist who try to persuade him to get off the straight and narrow path. Each person warms him not to listen to the others and he has to decide who is right and suffer the consequences when he listens to the wrong voices.
In Numbers 13, God told Moses to send out one person from each tribe to go throughout the Promised Land to scout it. They saw how fertile the land was, checked out the terrain and saw the cities. They noticed that there were several nations living in the land as well. They all agreed that it was a good land as God promised, but they also saw that there were giants and fortified cities that would be difficult to go to war with. The people began to murmur and to doubt God’s promise to give them the land. Then in verse 30 it says, “Caleb interrupted, called for silence before Moses and said, ‘Let’s go up and take the land—now. We can do it’” (MSG). You know the story. The people listened to the 10 spies with a negative report and faced the consequences.
What has God promises you? What voices are causing you to doubt Him? We often forget that there is a process to receiving His promises. There are battles that must be won, faith steps to be taken and moments where you push past what your eyes see. If God has promised something to you, there will be giants and people who try to persuade you away from going after it. There comes a point where you either trust God or you don’t. Receiving His promises is never easy. It takes faith and it takes courage to move towards it because others can’t see it or feel the passion God placed in you. Who’s voice will you listen to? There are consequences for listening to the wrong ones, but there’s also forgiveness. Ask God to give you wisdom in who you listen to and courage to proceed. Go take your land. You can do it!
One of the things that I see so many of us run into is paralysis through analysis. What I mean by that is that we feel like we need more information in order to act. When we don’t feel like we have all the information we need, we stall or make excuses as to why we can’t do what we need to. Because we live in the Information Age, we know there is always more information that we can acquire in order to make the best decision. The problem is that our need for information has replaced our ability to act in faith.
We all grew up hearing the words, “Ready. Set. Go.” As a people of faith, I believe God often is asking us to skip those first two words and simply go. Our comfort is in the getting ready and getting set, but we’ve learned to live in those areas without going. The truth is that we will never feel like we’re ready when we are acting in faith. To feel like we need more information, skills or tools means we are trying to do it in our own power and not in God’s. We’ve got to learn to let go of those security blankets and trust that we already have what we just need to “Go”,
Colossians 2:6 says, “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given” (MSG). It’s time for you and I to quit staying where we are trying to get ready. We need to step out with what we’ve been given and let God provide what we lack. Remember God doesn’t always call the most equipped people, but He does equip those He calls. It’s time to move forward with what you have. Break out of the paralysis through analysis, step out in faith and trust God to step in. That’s what faith is all about.
While watching the recent lunar eclipse online, I learned some new things from the astrophysics who were giving a play by play. One of the things was that from the time you see the sun touch the horizon, until it goes down, you are not really seeing the sun. You are actually seeing a reflection of the sun that has already dipped below the horizon. Because of air density and the curvature of the earth, it creates a mirage that reflects an image of the sun back above the horizon. So when you’re watching a sunset with the sun going below the horizon, you’re actually looking beyond the horizon.
I think that’s pretty cool because until that point, i thought we could only see as far as the horizon. When you read Hebrews 11, you read about the great heroes of our faith. They were the men and women who trusted God without seeing what He was talking about. That’s really what faith is. If you could see what you believe in, it’s not really faith. Trusting God is following where He leads before there is anything there to see. It’s truly looking beyond your visual limitations and seeing into the future.
Hebrews 11:13 says, “These heroes all died still clinging to their faith, not even receiving all that had been promised them. But they saw beyond the horizon the fulfillment of their promises and gladly embraced it from afar” (TPT). What has God been asking you to do that’s beyond your current vision? It may be over the horizon, but if He’s asking you to move towards it. Trust the vision of what you truly can’t see at this moment, and start acting in faith. The life God has called us to is always beyond the horizon. It’s up to us to trust in what He can see more than what we can see.
One of the stories on the Bible that speaks to me every time is in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah wasn’t able to have a child so she was ridiculed, taunted, bullied and shamed. Year after year this went on. One year she had enough. Instead of attacking her bully, she went into the Sanctuary to pray. She wept bitterly before God, crying out in prayer for a long time. As she prayed, her lips were moving, but the words were coming from her heart. She wasn’t leaving until God answered her prayer for a son.
Verse 10 says, “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord” (NLT). One of the first questions that comes to my mind is, “When is the last time I prayed with that kind of desperation?” Most of our prayers are simple ones with little emotion. I believe one of the reasons God answered Hannah’s prayer, and will answer ours, is because it was fervent and came from deep within her soul, not just her mind.
Verse 12 says, “Hannah continued to pray to the Lord for a long time” (GNT). I’ve heard the saying, “Don’t pray until you’re through. Pray until you’ve prayed through.” This is where it is applied. Too many times, we ask God for something and when He doesn’t answer right away, we quit praying. Hannah didn’t just pray for a long time, she prayed a long time for years. God uses her internal torment to develop a life of prayer. She wasn’t going to stop until she got her answer. One of the reasons God answered her prayer, and will answer ours, is because of persistence.
After the Eli, the priest, had told her God would answer her prayer, verse 18 says, “Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad” (NLT). Hannah believed God would answer and acted accordingly. She didn’t let the years of God not answering prayer create doubt. She held onto the promise and acted in faith before God answered. She quit believing the words of the bully and held onto God’s Word instead. One of the reasons God answered her prayer, and will answer ours, is when we act in faith.
In Exodus 14, the Israelites had left Egypt and were near the Red Sea. When they looked up, they saw Pharaoh and his army quickly approaching. When they realized they were trapped, they panicked. They yelled at Moses and cried out to God for help. I love God’s response to them. He said in verse 13, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (NLT) Moses then raised his staff and parted the waters for them to go through.
How many times have we been panicked and have cried out to God for help? I don’t know if I can count that high! I’ve spent many nights begging God for help in desperate situations. I’ve felt hopeless as I’ve cried out needing Him to act on my behalf. I can imagine what they were feeling in that moment. But God’s response to them was not what I expected. “Why are you crying out to me?” God had already told them what to do and where to go.
I wonder how many times God is saying that to us. How many times has He tried to tell us, “Get moving”? How much time have we used on panicked prayers when God is looking for us to have some action? They were at a seemingly dead end, but God still said, “Get moving!” You and I have not come to a greater dead end than they were at. If God told them they could move forward, I believe He’s telling us to move forward.
There’s a time to pray and a time to act. If God has called you to do something and you’re at a dead end, move forward in the direction He told you to go. Take that step of faith and watch the waters part. God honors big faith. Hold your hands up over the waters that stand before you and your destination, trust God to part them, and move forward. He didn’t call you to a dead end. He called you to see with faith what your eyes cannot see. Trust in His calling and get moving.
In Luke 17, the disciples asked Jesus for more faith. I’ve fallen into that trap myself: believing I could have more or less faith and that my amount of faith determines God’s response. They felt like it was the amount of faith Jesus had that gave Him the ability to do the things He was doing. The response Jesus gave them in verse 6, proves it isn’t the amount of faith you have that motivates God.
Jesus said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it” (MSG). There isn’t a size of faith. Either you have faith or you don’t. If you have faith that God will do something, you will act on that faith. If you have faith, you can speak to things and they will move.
James tells us that faith without works is dead. He’s saying, if you really have faith, you will act on it. If you aren’t doing anything by faith, you have none. Either you have faith and prove it daily, or you have none and prove it too. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” He understood that you will always act according to what you believe. If you don’t believe God will answer, you won’t really pray. If you do, you will pray and show you believe it.
Faith isn’t about size, it’s about action. When the disciples asked for more faith, they got schooled by Jesus. When a man in Mark 9 asked Jesus if He could heal his boy, Jesus responded in verse 23 with, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” Our response should be like this man’s. He replied, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” You only need a greater faith than your doubts if you want to act on it. If your faith isn’t strong enough to act on, then ask God to help you with your doubts.
I prayed something this morning that I’ve never prayed before. I prayed for someone I don’t know to do what only they can do. I’m a big believer that others are waiting on the other side of your obedience. When God asks you to do something, no matter how small, large, crazy, odd or illogical, it’s not necessarily just for you. It’s to line things up for someone else to be able to do what God has asked them to do. So this morning, I not only prayed for courage to step out in faith to do my part in obedience to help someone else, I prayed for the person I’m waiting on.
When we’re in that moment of waiting on God to move to show us a sign of what’s next, it’s dependent on someone else’s obedience. We keep asking God to show us or to move on our behalf, but today, I decided to pray for the person who needs to do their part so that my part will line up. When my part lines up and I step out in faith, it will release the next person who is waiting on me. Our steps of faith are never just for our own benefit.
I work on secret projects at work all the time. Because it’s a highly competitive industry, I don’t get all the information. I get just enough to do my part. I’m not allowed to reach out and ask others if they’re working on the same project or what their part is. The people higher up know what each piece of the puzzle looks like and assigns different people to work on different pieces. Once each of us completes our work and submits it, the higher ups put it all together and then I can see how it all fits together and makes sense.
Stepping out in faith and obedience is just like that. Each of us have a piece to a puzzle that is much larger than ourselves. Our responsibility isn’t to complete someone else’s part. It’s to do what God asked us to do. It doesn’t matter how small you may feel your piece is. In a puzzle, every piece is important. In faith, each of our parts is important. It doesn’t matter if you have a corner piece or a center piece, what you do in faith today matters to the whole of what God is doing.
If you aren’t happy with how small you feel your piece is, remember Matthew 25:23. Jesus used a parable to teach us that if we were faithful in the small things, He would make us ruler over many. When you show God you’re willing and able to do the things that seem small in your eyes, He will know He can trust you with the things that seem larger in your eyes. Our faithfulness activates God’s trust in us and allows Him to give us more than we have now.
What has God asked you to do in faith, but you’ve been holding out on doing because it seems menial? What have you been asking God to do in your life that you haven’t seen any movement on? Pray for those who need to do their part in faith that will put you in position to receive from God what you’ve been waiting for. Do what you’ve been asked of God to do so that those who are waiting on your piece can do what God asked of them. Your piece, no matter how small, is important to God’s plan as a whole.