obedience

Fearless When Ill-Equipped

woman with sunset behind her and the text of Zech. 4:6

God wants those who belong to Him to be brave and fearless. He Himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by the courage of the Spirit. ~ Tertullian Click To Tweet

I felt squeezed. In every direction. Sleep deprived and with more on my to-do list than I could possibly accomplish, pressing deadlines, and an upcoming speaking engagement I hadn’t begun to prepare for, I felt ready to explode. Or hide.

My brain, held captive by my insecurities and fears, refused to function. When I most needed it to shine.

My fear—that I’d fail, and in failing that I’d let everyone down. The conference director who had already purchased my plane ticket. Her team who had already sent out their promotional material, listing me as one of the keynotes. Their attendees, who had spent good money on the conference and were expecting to hear a fresh word.

And more than that, I was afraid I’d look stupid. As I stared at a blank computer screen, my eyes gritty from lack of sleep, my nerves tightly coiled, I worried I wouldn’t come up with anything.

I had nothing. No words. No thoughts.

I suppose much of that came from mounting stress, and sheer exhaustion. In the middle of taking accelerated classes and with an already booked summer, God called my husband and I to something incredibly difficult. Something that took every ounce of strength we had and left me in tears daily. We knew this task was from God. But … what about all our other commitments?

I couldn’t simply walk away. But neither could I, it seemed, walk forward. My insecurities, my fear of failure, my mounting negative thinking, kept chipping away at my strength.

So what’d I do? I stepped away. To pray. To give this thing, this task I felt ill-equipped and ill-prepared for, to God. And as I sat in His presence, His peace overshadowed my anxiety, and His truth stilled my fears.

I knew He’d called me to this engagement, so I decided—yes. I made the choice to trust God to give me the ability to fill this role--as He desired. And I reminded myself that this wasn't about me. Click To Tweet

quote pulled from post with background image of pastel colorsNor was it up to me. It never is. In fact, it’s when I’m resting fully in His grace and leaning deepest into Him that I find my greatest strength.

This is a choice we all must make, whenever our fears and insecurities begin to turn our ears from God’s call, whatever that call may be.

Consider Francis Chan’s words, taken from Forgotten God:

“How much it grieves [God] to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made. Throughout Scripture due to fear that those promises won’t be kept! Empowering His children with the strength of the Holy Spirit is something the Father wants to do. It’s not something we have to talk Him into. He genuinely wants to see us walk in His strength.”

Walking in God’s strength. Listening, with a surrendered heart, for His guidance, then stepping forward in faith, trusting Him to come through.

Is there something God has called you, something that makes your stomach tighten and your knees wobble? Maybe to initiate conversation with a new neighbor or launch a women’s Bible study? Maybe share your faith with a friend or coworker? If so, how does remembering God will be strong on your behalf, that you don’t have to be, give you courage? What are some ways you can lean into Him and rest in His strength? How do our thoughts play into that?

We all struggle with negative thinking, and so often, we become our own limiting factor. We allow our insecurities and fears to hinder our obedience and to prevent us from living out the awesome and life-changing role God hand-crafted each of us to fill. God calls us to greatness. To live courageously. To be life-changers. Click To Tweet

Join us for one of our Bold and Brave conferences to learn how to live intentionally and courageously. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or engage with us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter. And contact us HERE to have our team or one of our speakers join you for your next women’s event.

obedience

The Cost and Blessing of Obedience

Woman sitting on a dock gazing skyward with text pulled from blog post.

When have you heard God’s voice most clearly? When have you most felt His presence? During a time of strength and blessing, or perhaps when life hit hard, you faced a challenging assignment, and you felt ill-equipped and insecure?

Obedience rarely comes easily, but it can lead to the sweetest, most fulfilling blessing–increased intimacy with our Savior.

Consider the introverted, stammering Hebrew named Moses–the man who fled his homeland after what appeared to be a life-altering moral failure–murder. Long gone were the priestly robes he wore while roaming the Pharoah’s palace. Gone also were any dreams of grandeur he may once have entertained. By the time he encountered God one day, through a bush that burned without being consumed, he’d settled into a new way of life. A humble yet peaceful way of life.

God changed everything with one command: Go. Rescue my people from oppression and lead them to a land I’ve long promised.

This so wasn’t what he’d asked for. In fact, he’d debated God, explaining all the reasons he wasn’t the man, begging God to send anyone else. Someone more confident, with more authority, who didn’t stumble over their words or get tongue tied.

God refuted his protests, making it clear, He’d chosen Moses to free the Hebrews—a rebellious, grumbling, stiff-necked people—from oppression and bring them to a place of rest.

This was not the assignment Moses wanted. He was content where he was. He had a family, community, and a shepherding job that had to feed his introverted heart.

But God persisted, and he obeyed.

Fast forward two months. Moses’s assignment had proven profoundly more difficult than he’d feared. Shortly after God had miraculously liberated His people from Egyptian oppression, they forsook Him for gods fashioned from gold—the very gold God had provided.

God’s response: I’m done.

He’d step back from His people, sending His angel to lead them instead. (Ex. 32:33-33:3)

Those protests Moses began his assignment with had to be flooding his brain on replay. Yet, he remained, and Image of Jennifer sitting near the fireplace with text pulled from postin the middle of the hard, beauty unfolded. In desperation, Moses cried out to God, and that was exactly what he received—God Himself.

Isn’t that what our hearts long for most? To encounter God intimately, as not just our ruler, but one in whom we can confide. A friend who knows us deeply and who always has our best in mind? The One who confides in His children. (Ps. 25:14).

Obedience often comes with a cost, but it also comes with a priceless blessing—intimacy with our Creator.

What is God asking of you? How does knowing your obedience paves the way to close, unhindered friendship with Christ encourage you to surrender?

Oftentimes, obedience feels scary and involves risk. But Christ has given us the courage and strength to obey with boldness and bravery, whatever the situation. Join us for our next Bold and Brave Conference to learn how to overcome fear with faith and embrace the life God has for you. Visit Bethany Elkhorn’s website to learn more, and register before Sept. 22nd to snatch their early bird discount.

Contact Jennifer HERE to book the Wholly Loved speakers for your next women’s event.

fear

When Others Deem Our Actions Foolish

author image with text pulled from post

Sometimes the best choices are the hardest to make. Sometimes wisdom appears foolish and faith fanatical. As a young mother striving to live for Jesus, I quickly learned just how contrary the things of God can appear to some.

When I chose to stay home, some deemed me lazy.

When I attempted to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance and guard our daughter’s influences, I was accused of sheltering her. I was told my actions would ultimately harm her and leave her maladjusted.

My attempts to explain, or perhaps more accurately, to defend my choice, didn’t help. My discussion of God’s leading—of His gentle voice, spoken softly yet clearly to my heart—and the deep assurance that followed made no sense to those who had never heard Him or hadn’t learned to discern His voice.

Perhaps some even found me delusional:

“She claims to hear from God,” they say, with a raised eyebrow and slight smirk. “Does she talk to the Easter Bunny too?”

Over time, I learned to be a little more cautious regarding what I shared and with whom. And honestly, I hate that. I hate that I so often allow other people’s opinions to hold me back. I wish, like Paul, I could boldly and consistently say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes …” (Romans 1:16, ESV) and then back this up with my actions.

I’ve been ridiculed by my peers. He’d been imprisoned for his faith. I’d stood against cultural opposition to raise our daughter. He stood against the religious elite and angry mobs. I’ve been excluded from certain groups due to my “passion for Jesus”, but he’d been smuggled out of Berea in order to save his life.

There’s a lot of reasons I could give for why, at times, sharing the gospel makes my stomach knot and my palms text image using quote pulled from postget sweaty, and yet, in each instance, it comes down to this—whenever I stifle God’s message within, I’m putting my pride above someone else’s salvation.

When I look at it that way, my concerns and fears seem petty at best.

I imagine Paul felt as I have, on many occasions. Otherwise why the need to make such a bold and declarative statement—for I am not ashamed. Unless maybe he’d been tempted to feel ashamed in the past—perhaps when mobs of angry people shook their fists at him, spit on him, and hurled stones at him. Or perhaps others, maybe even believers in Rome, had demonstrated that they were ashamed of him. Or maybe he was simply stating a fact with all the courage the Holy Spirit allowed—I am not ashamed! No matter what others say, no matter how foolish or irrational my words appeared, I choose to speak life.

Even if it costs me mine.

Lord, help me have that same confidence Paul demonstrated again and again, regardless how others respond or how unpopular Your message appears. Because life’s too short and there’s too much at stake for any of Your children to remain silent.

Life’s much too short and Your love for the broken too strong for any of us, Your mouthpieces, to live afraid.

To the contrary! As ambassadors of the sovereign King, we can walk into any and every situation with our heads held high, our voices sure, and our message clear: “I am not ashamed, and I refuse to be, because the words I speak have power and life.”

Let’s talk about this! When has obedience caused you to look foolish in the moment or left you misunderstood? How did you gain the courage to step forward in faith? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other. And make sure to engage with us on Facebook and Instagram where we post daily snippets of encouragement!