What’s stopping from us from taking that bold step?
As I mentioned in the last blog post, I have been spending time over the last few weeks seeking God concerning the impact COVID-19 has on the corporate goals the team and I set at the start of the year, if any. About a month ago I saw an article about a business opportunity but I moved on without paying it much attention. A few days later, someone sent me the same article and that started to get my attention. I thought about it a bit more but didn’t invest too much mental, emotional or spiritual energy on it.
Then, you guessed it J, a third person sent it to me. That really got me thinking…. Is this something we should pursue? I have therefore spent the last few weeks or so praying about it more seriously. Given the nature of the opportunity some would wonder why I am praying so hard about it instead of just pursuing it. I have been asking myself that question. When I stopped to really search my heart I knew what it was….fear…
Fear of making a mistake.
Fear of failing; again....
Fear that it might not work out; again….
Fear that it might not be “God’s will for my life”.
If I am honest, there’s a part of me that’s tired; tired of seemingly unproductive and/or unprofitable journeys. There’s an often quoted verse, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12a). It is so true. There’s a heavy dreary cloak of disappointment that comes upon us when we have tried many things to little or no avail. What’s interesting is that we often don’t even realise that we are carrying this cloak, talk less of recognizing it for what it is. Sadly, however, whether we recognize it or not does not alter its debilitating effect on us; it’s there, holding us back, impeding us from being all that we were created to be.
There’s only one way I know of dealing with such things – confronting it – (i) identifying the underlying negative thought pattern, (ii) handing it over to the Father, and (iii) asking Him for the related truth in exchange. So I did.
Before I even started the process of truly searching my heart to identify the negative thought patterns I sensed the Lord challenging me with the following:
Don’t judge the new by the old.
Who said that those experiences weren’t part of the preparation?
Who said they weren’t part of the training?
Who said they weren’t part of building the muscles required for you to run the main race? Who said this time it wouldn’t work out?
And if it doesn’t work out this time, who said it wouldn’t work the next time?
But then again, what if? What if it does works out?
He reiterated the need for me to shake off the wretched cloak of disappointment masquerading itself as me simply wanting to be sure that the move was the will of God; to lay it aside and look at what He is or may be doing now.
The truth is that these fears manifest themselves in many different ways. For example, me wanting to pretty much hear the audible voice of God say “This is the way walk in it!” before making the move. God does that sometimes, but not all the time. We have to be careful not to put God in a box and expect Him to operate in a particular way all the time; especially when the root of the desire or expectation is fear or some other negative emotion. If we do, we may end up missing what He is doing. This is particularly true at a time such as now when He has said that He is doing something new; when He has said in so many ways, “Expect the unexpected!”
So I had to ask myself, “What is faith if we don’t walk forward when sight is unclear?” I realized that if my decision to not explore the opportunity was based on fear then there was a good chance that it was wrong. With this in mind, I allowed the Holy Spirit to raise a mirror to my heart to show me what was really holding me back. It boiled down to four main negative thought patterns:
1. I CAN’T!
The first question the Holy Spirit asked me regarding this thought pattern was, “Says who?” He reminded me that the One who created the heavens and the earth was within me and where He calls, He provides. He went on to assure me that God would not call me to do anything that He had not equipped me to do but stressed the fact that I would need to lean on Him to execute God’s plans for my life.
2. IT DIDN’T WORK OUT IN THE PAST!
Here I had to forgive God and a few other people for some past disappointments. Even though I felt I had done this several times before, I realized that I needed to get very specific about the hurts I was letting go of. Thereafter, I asked the Lord to come and heal me of the pain of the past disappointments. In His sweet way He encouraged me, based on the healing I had received, to forget the past and press forward to the wonderful future He has for me (see Philippians 3:13,14).
3. WHAT IF IT DOESN’T WORK OUT?!
Again He whispered to my heart to trust in Him and His goodness (Psalm 37:5). He also asked me a question, “What if it does work out?” He then went on to gently admonish me to not fear failure; not least, because I could learn from it.
4. WHAT IF IT’S NOT WHAT GOD WANTS FOR ME?!
In response to this the Lord reassured me that as His sheep, I hear and recognize His voice and will follow Him accordingly (John 10:27). He encouraged me to not be afraid of taking steps in line with my heart’s desires trusting that, as long as I remain intimate with Him, if I am going adrift I would hear His voice bringing me on course again saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21). He went on to further allay my fears of “missing it” by urging me to trust and rest in the Spirit within me (John 16:13).
It was such a liberating exercise! I need to constantly keep in mind that God is ahead of me, Christ is beside me and the Holy Spirit is within me, taking me on the God-Adventure (see https://www.justasiam.ng/post/the-god-adventure).
The Father has asked us to have child-like faith. If you think about it, what child stops running around because they’ve had some falls in the past? I have a scar on my knee where I fell and hurt the same place three times in quick succession as a child. Having the wound didn’t stop me from running around then so what changed?
There’s a second part to the “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” verse which is sadly less often quoted, “But a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” We really shouldn’t be scared to take bold steps. No one took “bold steps” by either remaining stationary or by taking timid steps. “Bold steps” are that precisely because they are bold. There is an element of risk involved but you take it because you believe the Godhead will be with you on the journey - guiding you, empowering you, protecting you, and providing for you, amongst others - knowing that in the end, we win! 😊