“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.’
But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish.” (Jonah 1:1-3)
“Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me and what the king had said to me.
They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.” (Nehemiah 2:17-18)
All my life, I’ve known I wanted to write. I loved writing assignments in elementary school, and by the time I reached college had a deep, abiding preference for writing 30-page papers rather than take one of those awful blue-book exams. Written words have always flowed from my heart and my mind with surprising ease, given how slowly the words come to me in conversation. While I never knew how it would look, I knew my future involved the written word. My plans for my life revolved around things that would allow that to be fulfilled.
Once I graduated college and began walking with Jesus in earnest, I discovered that my comfort with writing was more than a strange introverted character trait; it was a gift, given to me by God, that He wanted to use to fulfill His purposes in my life.
Well, now. That’s a whole different thing.
Knowing God has a purpose for me gives me a drive and a vision that I never had before. Knowing I have a place in His grand master plan is humbling and inspiring. But knowing that He has called me to things outside my comfort zone? That’s crippling and scary.
There is a very real risk that I’m going to make an utter fool of myself.
People might see me fail on a much bigger stage (literally, as it turns out) than I’m comfortable with.
I don’t know what it’s going to look like or how I’m going to manage it.
As a result, I’ve been paralyzed. I haven’t been willing to give myself 100% to the work I’m called to do because the risks are too great and the uncertainty level is too high.
I’m really a modern-day Jonah. Because while I haven’t actually physically run away from God, I’ve turned my back on Him as He’s tried to give me instructions. If my daughter stuck her fingers in her ears and hummed loudly while I was trying to talk to her, I’d be livid. I think, though, that I’ve kind of been that kind of disobedient and disrespectful child to God.
Maybe I’m growing up, but I’ve recently had a change of heart and mind. I have been sitting on God’s dreams for my life for far too long. It’s time to stop making excuses and get busy.
Yep, I’m still scared. Yep, I still hate the idea of making a fool of myself. Yep, I’m still crippled by the fear of people seeing me take a risk and fail. Oh, yeah. Still all of that. All the feels.
I’m inspired, though, by the story of Nehemiah. It’s one of those books in the Old Testament that gets overlooked sometimes because of its heavy references to historical events that we don’t know much about, but it’s a terrific story of one man’s obedience to God’s calling.
Nehemiah knew what he needed to do: rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah had all he needed to do it: the blessing of people who mattered to him and the gracious hand of God on him as he went forward. Given his certainty of purpose and calling, Nehemiah made what seems to have been an easy choice for him.
He rallied the troops and got moving. No excuses or dragging his feet or denying the call on his life. He knew what God told him to do, and he made it happen. He ran directly toward those plans, even when it was hard. Even when he was mocked and ridiculed and verbally attacked for what he was doing, he did not falter. He didn’t hesitate. He wouldn’t allow himself to be distracted from doing the work God had instructed him to do.
At this point of my life, I’m in a place of choosing to either obey like Nehemiah or run like Jonah. I can either move forward in my purpose, or get in the way of whatever it is that God has planned. I can surrender my fears and hesitations, or I can stubbornly refuse to move.
I think it’s okay to be a little scared. I think it’s okay to be nervous. I do not think it’s okay to remain disobedient and not trust what God has said.
Friend, I don’t know what challenges you’re up against today. I don’t know if you’re poised and ready to take a big leap of faith into the unknown, or if you’re still in a place of denial. I don’t know what big thing God has asked you to do, but if you’re still sitting and making excuses or dragging your feet, remember this: God treasures you. He will not set you up for failure. God has called you. He has plans for you that you can’t dream up for yourself. God has equipped you. He will be with you and will give you everything you need for the road ahead.
So get up and get moving, and know that we’re here cheering you on the whole way.