let's have some audacity

Watching a gymnast on the balance beam always makes me cringe. 

I find myself, uncontrollably, gasping as I watch these athletes do twists and slips, while landing with both feet on the narrow strip of beam. Why? Because I wait for the unthinkable to happen - they could fall! It does happen. It's happened before which, could be the very reason why I cringe or gasp. Words come out of my mouth like, "please don't break your neck!" At the same time, it's beautiful to watch. A gymnast works so hard at what they do and their bodies were trained to do the flips, turns, splits and all the various other maneuvers that they do. Oftentimes, when you ask a gymnast what they wanted to be, as a child, they will say - "gymnast!" Then came the years of discipline that would lead them to making it to their goal. 

I am no athlete but, I find that there is a lot one can relate with them. And, I hope that you realize this by the time you are done reading this post. It's something that has been on my heart for quite some time. It's something that I've struggled with putting out there and, I promise, it will all make sense in the end. 

Did you know you are needed in this world?

Did you know that? God created you with a specific purpose while you were in your mother's womb. It seems crazy to think but, the God I serve, is a God who is so thoughtful and purposeful when it comes to His creation that, it doesn't surprise me. Psalm 139:13 says, for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 

The psalmist is conveying something that is true for you and me. God created our inmost being. What does that even mean? Well, shall we take a journey through the Hebrew text and it's literal meaning? You might be surprised! I found that the literal meaning of "inmost being", used in this verse, is - wait for it - kidneys. Yes, you read that right. The Hebrew word used is 'kilyah' and it is an idiom; similar to how we might say, "it's raining cats and dogs." It is a word used to describe the innermost center of emotions and of moral sensitivity. God created us down to the very, minute details and placed the wiring we would need to live the life He has called us to. 

In other words - God created you for a unique and glorious purpose, which was only designed for you; to be carried out by you and makes you so very needed. 

I don't know about you but, I sure do struggle with this. Yes, I know God created me. I've heard it time and time again about having a purpose and a unique calling. I have heard the scripture referencing how the church body is made up many different parts and how there is a hand and a foot and a this and a that. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27) The enemy, in all his old and recycled schemes, loves to make me question and doubt it all. And when I do be so bold as to step out in faith, it's not all the way. 

Have you ever decided to chase a dream? You suddenly feel the audacity and boldness to take the first step towards putting it into action. However, you still feel restrained just enough to not make you do anything too embarrassing. Because, if you fail, that would be the end. And, heaven forbid that you don't measure up to someone elses standards. Also, the voices of those who challenge you with questions like, "are you sure?" and "better safe than sorry" that make you hesitate going full throttle.

Oh friend, I can completely relate to all of that! Let me tell you something - we are doing a disservice to God when we just wade in the shallow part of the pool. When He is calling us out to the deep end, He is also letting us know we can trust Him. 

Dare to be a Peter

One of my favorite stories in scripture is when Peter walked on water to Jesus. If I were forced to choose a favorite human in scripture, it would be Peter. He as the boldness to say to Jesus, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." Why is this so bold? Because I don't know that I would have had the guts to bring it up. Because if you keep reading in scripture, you will see that Jesus does say "come" and there Peter goes. That would have been the exact reason I probably would have kept my mouth shut because ain't no way I would have gotten out of that boat! Let's just be honest here! 

It's easy for me to think I would, because I know how it ends, but in that moment, Peter doesn't. This is a moment I would have loved to have witnessed in person. Did Peter hesitate as his first leg went over the boat as he looked up, one more time, to make sure he saw Who he saw? Were the other disciples silent or, were they yelling at him, "don't do it Peter!" Were sweat droplets forming around his temple as he reached the moment of "it's too late now"? With both legs over the side, slowly lowering down towards the water, wondering if he just made a big mistake. Then, suddenly, his feet stop as if on solid ground. Did he run? Did he skip? Did he walk and marvel at what was happening; losing his balance a couple of time and looking at Jesus with incredulous eyes? 

Step by step. Foot in front of the other. Peter was trusting Jesus and doing something he knew could only be possible because of God. Similar thoughts and feeling can rush through us when we take that first step of obedience when we know God is calling us to something. We take that first step towards applying for a job or writing or performing or speaking in front of others or praying aloud or telling someone about your faith. The joy can be overwhelming as we realize how trustworthy and faithful our God is! And, right when we are becoming more and more confident, a gust of wind comes blowing in that distracts our attention. We take our eyes off our Creator for just a second but, it's long enough for fear to rush in. It doesn't always take a lot. Sometimes it's just one word or question or doubt to knock us off the path. 

We see this while Peter is walking towards Jesus and the wind picks up causing Peter to succumb to fear. He suddenly feels is feet start lowering into the water and, before he knows it, he begins to sink and cries out to Jesus for help. 

Now, here is where we get to be like Peter. In those moments of doubt, fear, ridicule, or questioning - it's always from the enemy by the way and, he is a weasel enough to use people we love to cause this fear to sink in - and we begin to sink, remember that Jesus isn't going to tower over you and watch. He isn't going to turn His back. He won't side step you and say, "well, that's what you get for doubting me!" No. He reaches down and helps us up. 

Why is this like Peter? Because we know that when we step out of the boat,  and the enemy uses his smarmy ways to make us sink but we have the assurance that Jesus isn't going to leave us. He is going to help us up and be right there with us, while reminding us of where we  need to place our faith, He will never leave nor forsake us. Just as He was there for the Israelites, He is the same for us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Be Bold

For the longest time, I have felt like a giant, self-inflicted, thumb has been pressed upon me. Just enough pressure to limit me from going all in with the gifts and purpose I know full well God has created me for. Maybe you are in the same boat. Maybe you are going full throttle! Keep going! Show the rest of us how beautiful it is please!

But some of you, it could look like this:

  • Comparison holds you back. You see someone with a similar vision and they just seem to be so successful. There is no way you could ever attain the same level and so, why bother. Those standards could never be met so, you will just do enough to feel good but, not enough because you don't want to feel like a failure. Instead do this: Use scripture as the tool for comparison. Hold your dreams, desires and the like up to the Word of God. Seek His wisdom and guidance through prayer and worship. Shift the perspective from "am I as good as her?" to "is what I'm doing pleasing and honoring to God?" We are to be imitators of Christ and not of people. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
  • Fear of failing. Now, see, if you had been Peter, you would have never gotten out of the boat had you known you would have sunk before reaching Jesus. Not only is it a bit humiliating but, it also means you failed. You let doubt and fear win, therefore, you failed. And, there is no way you are going to fall into that trap again. The idea of being rejected or failing places the hand cuffs on your wrist and attaches you to that boat. You are perfectly fine sitting their with your life jacket on. Just going out into the water took enough faith and that is good enough. God should give you some credit for that! Instead do this: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don't lean on your own understanding because your ways are not His ways. (Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 55:8-9) Straight from scripture. This is truth. What would have happened if Ruth hadn't left her homeland to go with Naomi? What if her fear trumped the pull she was feeling to leave? Or if David ran away instead of facing Goliath? Or Esther not going to the King for the sake of her people? Or Mary telling the angel no, she could not be the one to birth Jesus? Or if you hadn't taken the step of faith that you did? Yes, God is big and mighty and doesn't really need us but, He has designed His creation in such a way where He uses us in specific ways. Sometimes it's scary. Sometimes we will fail. But, He is right there; near to us and ready to help. Trust Him.
  • Vulnerability versus Fear. It seems like a grand gesture to step out in faith. We are impressed when others do it but, we would just assume that our prayers and encouragement will suffice. How many of us have God knocking on our door; inviting us but, we are too afraid to answer? I will share with you my inner struggle when it comes to writing. I knew that when I began to share, in this way, my lack of education in the English department would be exposed. Commas in the wrong place, poor word choice, bad grammar - all were areas I struggled in English or Composition type classes. They are still not my strong suit. In fact, many of you who are strong in that area, are most likely cringing as you read this. That's okay. It wasn't always okay, though. There was a time when those very things prevented me from trusting God and stepping out in faith. I knew He had put words in me. They were scribbled all over journals and, in every prayer time, I would feel the nudge to share. Writing would push me into a place of vulnerability as I revealed this weakness. Not only that but, I would be sharing parts of my story that, to me, held a lot of risk. I was risking my pride. I was risking my identity. I was risking my image. Instead do this: Be like Peter. He wasn't an angel. He wasn't Jesus. He was a human just like you and me and, last I checked, humans don't walk on water. Getting out of that boat meant he would either walk on the water and it would be amazing or, he would be the laughing stock of the boat by sinking immediately. Every person who followed Jesus and answered His calling took a risk. It made them vulnerable to ridicule, judgement and even death. When we push aside what others think and look to Jesus for all we need, He meets us in our vulnerability. He says take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). He tells us His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). When we are vulnerable around others, we are vulnerable with Jesus and, in that moment, His powerful love and grace radiates and upholds us as we step out in faith.
Kick Fear to the Curb

Did you notice that fear seems to be the common denominator in those three points? It is a cotton-headed-ninny-muggins. Fear is what holds us back. It can be fear of the unknown; fear of what others will think; fear of failure; fear of being taken out of our comfort zone. 

Have you watched The Chosen? If you haven't,  you need to. There is a moment when Jesus meets Mary Magdalene outside a tavern. It's a scene that was created by the writers of the show but, in such a way that would include cultural context and the very character of Jesus. While we aren't for certain the moment actually happened, it very well could have and would have made sense. It brings to life a piece of scripture I have read before (Isaiah 43:1) but, have never personalized it. Jesus tells Mary, after she has been besieged by demons and is ready to end her life, that He sees her. She is His. I lost it at that moment. How powerful is it to know that Jesus, with both hands on your shoulders or, cupping your face, saying these words, "you are mine." The three most meaningful words. They don't come from a place of control or force. Those words are oozing with unconditional love, grace and redemption. 

You. Are. Mine.

I love the way The Message paraphrases Isaiah 43:1 - "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine."

He has called me. He has called you. There is no room, or need, for fear. If He has redeemed you, which He has, you are being called by name to live out the purpose He has uniquely designed you for. There is no self-help book or quiz that will determine it for you. You already know! And if you are still unsure, go to scripture. Go to the Word of God and pray asking for Him to reveal it to you. Many times we overthink or wonder if our purpose is suppose to be this grand spectacle. We are not all Paul, Timothy, David, Martha, Mary, Rahab, Esther or Peter. You are you. And if you read each story behind the names I just listed, you will see how unique each person's purpose was; how their gifting mingled with their human-nature. 

I go back to my gasp moment while watching gymnasts on the beam, or bars or whatever contraption they fling their bodies over. In the moments before they run or leap, I wonder what runs through their mind. All the days, weeks, months and years of preparation come to a head on the mat. The risk is inevitable. Could they break their neck? Yes. Could they miss the mark and end up completely injured or in a position that has them open to shaming or ridicule? Absolutely. But, just like a gymnast, we can have the audacity to take the first step. 

So, be bold. Be courageous. Have faith. Step out of the boat. Do a flip on the balance beam. Have the audacity to not care what others think of you and place your eyes firmly on Jesus. Focus on the One who is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. The Alpha and the Omega. Your Creator and Friend. Whether you are a painter, a writer, a teacher, an encourager, an intercessor, a mother or father, a carpenter, a composer, a designer, a planner, a leader, a tech-guru, a chef or a gymnast. Do it with the same faith Peter showed and step out of that boat. 

We need you. Let's have some audacity. Together.


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