I’ve been thinking a lot recently about next steps and what it takes to faithfully step out and trust what we feel God is calling us into. When I start to reflect on the notion of guidance I am sure that I am like a lot of you, I have a favourite couple of passages of scripture that I go to which remind me of the kind of attitude that God wants me to have.
My first go to passage is Genesis 12 and the call of Abram. Let me give you the Gavin interpretation of this story. Abram was happy in his own little world, getting by perfectly fine, he was pretty prosperous, had a place of prestige in his family and community, when suddenly God breaks in and tells Abram to leave everything that he has behind and go to the country that He will show him. He gives Abram a whole bunch of incentives that are generational and the power to release blessings and curses on people… all Abram has to do is follow God. So Abram agrees and asks where he’s to go. God tells him, “don’t worry I’ll tell you when you get there, just get going!” What we witness is an act of great faith, not only is Abram stepping away from all that he has known, following God into a land that he doesn’t know where he is going to end up, but he’s banking his faith on a promise that will only see fulfilment through generations that are not even born yet… more than that Abrams wife Sarai is not able to conceive.
I love the faith that is demonstrated in this encounter, it reminds me that whatever steps of faith I take have a generational impact. It reminds me that I receive the blessings that have been won for me over the years and through my faithfulness to God’s call on my life I am impacting not just the generation that follows (my kids) but also the generations that haven’t even been dreamt about yet.
I don’t know if you’ve ever considered the impact of what may seem like simple steps of faith in your life, or if you’ve considered the legacy that you’re building as you exercise your faith and allow God to use you to bring His Kingdom, but it was something that Abram was acutely aware of and he was willing to bet his whole life on the promises that God spoke to him.
Now we all know the outcome of this story, we know that God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah and they do indeed start a family from which Israel is born. But what we sometimes forget is that once Abram and Sarai get to the promised land and God tells them, you’re here, this is the land that I am going to give to your descendants. Abram gets time to set up an alter to worship at, but not long after arriving the region is engulfed in a famine and Abram has to go to Egypt.
Sometimes we think that when we are in the will of God then everything will be plain sailing for us, but the reality is that walking in God’s will does not magically take away the stuff that squeezes us – in fact I would suggest that Jesus plainly tells us in Matthew 19 that when we’ve given up everything to follow him, we’ll be repaid 100 times in this world (blessings in our life) but also experience persecution (we’ll get squeezed). I believe when we keep focused on the promises of God and know that there is a generational prize to be won we will see his grace at work in and through us. Knowing the legacy that you are building for future generations, ones that you haven’t even dreamt about helps keep an eternal perspective, which helps us think like God thinks, it helps us to grow our patience.
The other go to passage that I often remind myself of is Acts 9. I doubt very much that Ananias was looking to do anything other than get by in life, to worship God, maybe tell his friends the gospel and serve his local community, pretty much like you and I! I am sure that he never expected his name to be remembered for 2000+ years. But we see a faithful man who takes a massive step of faith when everything seems to be stacked against him. God tells him to go and heal Saul, God tells him not to worry because he has a plan for Saul’s life. So Ananias goes, not really knowing the reception that he will receive from Saul and tells him that he is a Christian and then demonstrates Kingdom power working through him as he asks for Saul’s healing. Ananias doesn’t allow reputation or fear to stop him from doing what God has asked of him.
Both these stories remind me that God often calls us to take steps before we have all the answers. Stepping out in faith is an act of courage; it took Peter courage to step out of the boat to walk on water, it was only when he lost courage and started to doubt that he began to sink! It took courage for Abram to leave everything that he knew behind him and set off for a new land, it took courage to believe generational promises that had no earthly right to be fulfilled. It took courage for Ananias to visit Saul, to reveal his faith in Christ to him and be used to heal the man who had come to kill him.
Now why have I been going on about all this – well simply put, taking a step to do a programme like Plan A can feel scary. It can feel like stepping out into the unknown, starting a journey where you’re not sure of the destination, a bit like Abram! It can feel like you’re putting yourself into a situation where God may be asking you to do something like Ananias did – take the Kingdom to someone whose got the potential to cause a whole lot of mess for you.
But faith is courageous, if we only trust what we can do in our own strength we won’t experience the thrill that Peter did when he stepped out of the boat to join Jesus on the water. I sometimes think that we read a tone of accusation in Jesus’ words to Peter after he rescues him from sinking, I don’t think that Jesus’ words were harsh, I think that he was thrilled that Peter had got out and was doing it… Jesus just wanted Peter to experience the fullness of walking with him to the shore!
What courageous step of faith can you take today, this week or this year? May be a good place to start is with taking an intentional year to grow in missional discipleship by journeying with us in 2019, it may be something totally different, I would love to know what you sense God is calling you into.
I’ve been doing some updates on the Plan A website and there is a whole bunch more information on there about the programme for you to access. I really hope that it is informative and helps answer any questions that you may have. If you have any questions regarding Plan A or you’d like an informal chat before applying then please do get in touch.
Plan A is a year long multi-generational, life changing discipleship program. Applications for January 2019 will close on December 14th 2018 – you can download an application form from the website.