The new testament is scary stuff. Jesus approached the disciples and told them to follow him. They dropped their nets and followed him. Just like that. Paul went to prison. A lot. He completely walked away from his life to follow Christ and establish the church. Every one of the disciples died a painful death, or died in exile. They lost everything. Even their lives. That’s an intimidating thought.
Aren’t we called to do the same thing?
What if you take that first step and God wants you to ditch your house, leave your family, quit your job? What if you’re called to actually go to prison? People are sitting in prison right now in other countries because they refused to be silent about Christ. This is the mark we are shooting for, right? If we don’t hit “that level” then we’re basically faking it. Right?
It’s not impossible that God will call you or me to throw away everything and follow Him into dangerous lands to make disciples of all nations. But so far, God hasn’t done that. You haven’t yet been called to ditch everything and take up your cross. You might be someday, but you haven’t been so far. Stop acting like you’ve been called to do something terrifying if you really haven’t been.
Right now my wife and I are talking about a mission trip in 2014. Four years ago this would not have been possible. We were both working in professional jobs with demanding schedules and spending more than our double incomes with little to show for it. We were due for a stretch. Our nanny delivered the first stretch. She gave us The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Step One: We needed to get out of debt and radically alter our spending. Our next stretch came when my wife felt compelled to leave her job and stay home with our two girls. Without having gone through that book, and Financial Peace University, we would never have been equipped to cut our income in half. And the changes kept coming. Even simple practical things like increased vacation time for me which makes it easier for Lisa to go. Each step led to another. But we had to take each step before we had any idea what the next one looked like. Each one was a stretch, but was never enough to break us. Looking back, I can barely remember what our lives were like. I don’t even remember each of the steps. But the exciting thing is that I know they are not over.
A good friend of mine, David Chacon, said something very wise to me. David does absolutely amazing things with kids to release their amazing potential in exciting and inspiring ways. He has grown so much and his life today bears no resemblance to what it was twenty years ago. David is 100% radically abandoned to service to God. Wow! Looking at David, I feel compelled to throw it all away and abandon myself to God’s calling. I feel compelled to do something radical.
But David explained the first step God asked him to take. And then the second. And the third. He had gone through many steps and transformations to get where he was today. Each one was a stretch, but a manageable stretch. God kept him out of his comfort zone, but never ripped him out of his life. Looking back, he says he never could have accepted what he is doing now if God had dropped it in his lap all at once. He needed to be taught how to swim. And a God that loves him taught him to swim before he threw him in the deep end. And trust me, David is in the deep end these days and he’s rocking it. Because he was well trained.
Let God get about the business of teaching you to swim. Yes, in twenty years your life may bear no resemblance to where you are now. But this will happen in a series of challenging steps. God will nudge and pull you up each one. A God who loves you will never throw you in the deep end just to watch you flail your arms and sink. If you ever get the call to throw it all away, you’ll be in a place where doing so is possible. You’ll be ready. God will make you ready.
Let God start that process. Stop waiting for your radical life plan to be unveiled before your eyes. In this race you don’t get to see the finish line before you cross the starting line. Listen to the still quiet voice calling you to do something small today and just do it. Don’t worry about what the next calling will be. It will come when you’re ready for it. When you’ve been properly trained. Properly prepared. By a God who loves you.
We were built to be heroes.
It’s about time we started acting like heroes.