For most of us, starting something new can be daunting, especially if it is not something that we have been looking forward to. In my case, it is high time that I start exercising again on a regular basis. So I got up this morning and went to the park near our house and began my two mile walk/ run. I hope that it will progress to a run/ walk and eventually a total running event. Let me be clear that my version of running is what most people refer to as jogging. Anything faster than a walk will still be running in my book. As I finished my walk/ run, I was about to get in my car when I saw my friend Kevin from church playing his violin on one of the benches off to the side of the walking trail. He was dressed for church and seemed to be enjoying himself in the midst of God’s beautiful creation. I asked him how often he did this and he responded by saying that it was his first time. It struck me that this was a very brave thing for him to do as there were many people exercising at the park, but nobody else playing an instrument. Clearly Kevin was playing for an audience of one and didn’t really care what other people thought, except maybe hoping they enjoyed the sound of his violin as much as he did.
My dad tells the story of a life changing event at an Urbana Missions conference many years ago when Paul Little was speaking. Paul used the metaphor of our lives as vehicle. He said that God was more than prepared to give us the direction for where the car was supposed to go and the power or fuel to get there, He simply wants us to put the car in gear. That admonition led my parents to apply for a visa to work as missionaries in the island of Trinidad. Even though they had been told that it might take quite a while for this to be approved, they saw God bless their initiative by getting the visas approved in less than six months.
I wonder how many people never see God use them in the way He could because they never take that first step. One of our authors, Pastor Alyn Waller, makes the point in his great book, Enjoy Your Journey that God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites and told them to go through it on dry ground. He goes on to point out that when the Israelites finally got to the Jordan after wandering in the wilderness for 40 years that He told them that they would have to step in the water first before He would do anything. They knew what He was capable of, He just wanted them to take the first step of faith.
As I think about taking first steps, here are a few of the things that have helped me to get into gear and may help you as well:
1. Committing to reading an entire book of the Bible in a month and taking notes as I go.
2. Buying a journal and actually using it several times a week to put my thoughts and reflections on paper.
3. Picking up the phone and calling someone that God wants me to encourage and maybe get to know at a deeper level.
4. Choosing to read a book on a subject that I need to learn about (like the great new book A Passion for Prayer by Tom Elliff).
5. Saying yes to participation in a small group that can hold me accountable and encourage my spiritual growth as I ask questions about what God wants me to do.
In the end, I am praying that God will give me the courage to take new steps of faith this week like my friend Kevin and recognize that everything I do is for the audience of one.