Follow Your Calling in Spite of Your Fear

Three-hole punched and organized into a shiny new notebook, my teaching notes were ready to go.  The call had come, I had done the long work of study and heart preparation – and I was terrified.  Tiny voices of doubt nibbled away at my confidence:

“You’re such a spiritual lightweight! Nothing you can discern from Scripture could ever be helpful to these women!  You’re wasting your time – and theirs!”

When I allow anxiety and my feelings of inadequacy to be the loudest voice in the room, I’m tempted to hand my notes over to someone else:  “Here, you do this.   I’m not experienced enough.  I’m not brave enough.  I’m . . . not enough.”

Smiling as I read Scripture, it’s clear to me that I’m not the first God-follower to plead inadequacy in the midst of an assignment.  Moses famously “reminded” God that he had never been granted the gift of gab.  Jeremiah waved his birth certificate under God’s nose, as if the One who had formed him, chosen him, and assigned him to a prophetic ministry might have confused His young servant with a much older, more experienced servant of the same name.

In the moment, saying yes to God can feel risky.  The outcome of obedience is hidden from view, for the following life is like a film that we experience one frame at a time.  My fiery and faith-filled yes at the outset may lead to blessing and fruitful outcomes; there may be Red Sea crossings and miraculous provisions of nourishing bread and refreshing water at just the right time.

Or  —  my assignment may be more like Jeremiah’s.

Who in her right mind is eager to embrace a call to “pull up and tear down,”  to “tear apart and demolish,” and then, after the dust has settled, to “build and to plant?”  (Jeremiah 1:10)  Certainly not Jeremiah, but it’s interesting to note that God did not respond to Jeremiah’s anxiety with a slap on the back and a “You’ve got this, my boy” pep talk.  Instead, he gently turned Jeremiah’s anxious eyes away from his own inexperience and toward a greater reality . . .

When Jerusha Agen invited me to join her at the Fear Warrior Blog, I had just begun reading about Jeremiah:  his youthful lack of confidence, his impossible assignment, and then the way God met Him there and bent over backwards to communicate His promises of strong support and supernatural strength.  Who better to lead us into warrior mode in our continual assignment to fight against fear in our ordinary lives?

I’d love it if you’d click on over to Jerusha’s place and finish reading my thoughts on Jeremiah’s ammunition against anxiety.  It is my hope that you will hear God’s whispered words of comfort directly to your own situation through His strong reassurance to Jeremiah:

“I made you.
I called you.
I will go with you.”

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Four Faith-Forward Lessons from the Life of Moses

In a couple of months, I’ll be celebrating two years of blogging.  When my pastor first invited me to be a guest writer for the church’s blog, I could barely breathe whenever I clicked on that “publish” button — and that really hasn’t changed too much.  What has changed, however, is my understanding of bold believing, my willingness to trust God with the risk of putting my words “out there” to invisible readers.  I’m finding that God is not looking for a different Michele to carry His Truth.

Fortunately, I’m not the first follower to need this bit of encouragement, and Sharon Jaynes unpacks the “Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold” lesson that God revealed to Moses.  Take Hold of the Faith You Long For addresses my objections to a bold following, my amnesia about the nature of the God who calls, and my desire to cling to the timid reluctance that characterizes the lives of most believers.

Sharon speaks from experience. Feeling stuck between the Red Sea and the Promised Land, Sharon longed to move from “knowing the promise to believing the promise” in her life of faith.  She has discovered in the story of Moses and the burning bush a rescue mission in which God lifted Moses out of his insecurity and into his true identity through a revelation of God’s own power and presence.  The result of her study is a pondering of Moses’ four questions that were forever settled for him there on the holy ground that surrounded the burning bush:

  1.  “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”  

It turns out that Moses was asking the wrong question, for it was not who Moses was, but, rather, who God is that made all the difference, for He is the God who chooses, who loves, who enables, and who accepts His children with grace and patience.  God’s presence and His abundant promises made all the difference for Moses as he moved into his new leadership role.

2.  “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”

With this objection, Moses learned the glorious truth that the Great I AM would fill in all his perceived gaps, giving him words to say and showing him what to do. God is not looking for perfection in our era either.  With all our inferiority and insecurity, the underlying statement is a sense of inadequacy:
I’m not smart enough.
I’m not experienced enough.
I’m not talented enough.  Fill in the blank with your own . . .
I’m not _____________ enough.

In every case, the answer is the same:  God replies, “I AM,” just as He did with Moses.

3.  “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’”

Maybe you have been belittled in the past.  Perhaps you are carrying an identity that is freighted with failure.  At the burning bush, Moses was confronted with the shame of his past and encouraged to move forward with a new God-given identity.  He could choose to forgive himself and others and move on, or he could have elected to stay in bondage to the past.  Forgiveness does not absolve the offender, deny the wrong, or lessen the evil of whatever has been committed.  The Greek word for forgiveness carries overtones of freedom and release, and this applies to both the offender and to the individual who was wronged.

Sharon also challenges her readers to let go of the “what if’s” and to move into “sure-footed confidence” in God’s messages of hope.

4.  “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

With one of many relevant and heart-warming stories from her own life, Sharon reveals a first-grade memory from her own days of being slow-of-reading.  Today God is up-ending her insecurity around words in her career as a writer.  She has written twenty books, and I’m smiling as I read a New Testament testimonial to the life and ministry of Moses:

“And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.”  Acts 7:22

Mighty in words and deeds.

God washed away the stain of the REJECT stamp from Moses’ life, and Paul invites us to learn from this stunning example:

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  Romans 15:4

Let Moses’ fireside conversation with God answer your objections to a bold faith — and then move forward into the faith you long for.

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This book was provided by BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews from Living Our Days delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.