Stepping Out in the New Year

1.03.18 Leave a comment

For many, this is the week that we begin to act on the inner sense that some things need to change in our lives.  The whole idea of New Year’s resolutions is that a new year provides a base line for starting some new disciplines, practices or commitments that will somehow improve the quality of your life.

Although my experience that most New Year’s “resolutions” are likely to fail, it almost always come down to the source of our strength for those perceived areas of need.

If it’s simply my own “will” deciding that I need to behave, think or act differently, it won’t last very long.

However, if the source of my strength for those same changes is the indwelling Spirit of God, then a huge reservoir of hope begins to open in my heart.

One of the most important areas of need that I perceive throughout the body of Christ (and in my own life) is the certainty that I am fulfilling God’s call on my life and in some way making a difference in the lives of people around me.  To be really honest about it, even though most of us would agree that this is a worthwhile pursuit, defining what that objective might be is much more difficult.

However, the Lord has spoken to that issue in our lives as well.  In Hebrews 11:8 we discover that Abraham… “obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”  Think of the magnitude of that statement.  Abraham was a wealthy and secure land owner with no need to change anything in his life for his own satisfaction.  However, when God spoke to him (and all changes of eternal value begin with a word from God) Abraham (Abram) left everything he had accumulated and went on an adventure of faith, “even though he did not know where he was going.”

The core message of this reference is that we are to step out when we know that God has spoken to us, even though we may not be able to describe fully where we are going.  For those of us who may be passionate about detailed strategic planning, this verse can be very unsettling.  Why would we even dream about leaving security and stability for something that we cannot even define or describe?

What this action reveals is that Abraham trusted God more than his own need for a clear road map of the future.  If we believe that God has called us to something different, something more, something of eternal consequence, we must act even if we’re not sure what the outcome may ultimately be.

The result of such actions of faith are an ever increasing confidence in the person of Jesus in your life.

If you have to know what the ultimate destination of your faith journey is to be, it’s unlikely that God will ever show you.  God does not usually define for us what He’s going to do; He simply reveals to us Who He is as we take our steps of faith.

37 years ago, when I met with the first 8 other men who formed the initial leadership team of North Way Christian Community, it is not an overstatement to say that we had no idea where God was ultimately taking us.  I could not define for them or myself what this new church would look like, how it would function or even where it would be located.  I just “knew” that God was calling me out from what I had been doing for the previous 10+ years and into something that was significantly different.

I remember very well that my father made a special trip over to visit with me to remind me of the responsibilities that I had to care for my wife and 3 young children and for the 4+ years of specific education and preparation that I had invested to stay somewhere on the path that I had been walking.

I couldn’t offer my dad any reassuring details about our destination, but I was able to speak with a certain level of confidence that I knew that God had spoken to us and that I really had to obey His calling to “go out” from where I had been.

It’s likely that many of you who are reading this post feel the same need for some sort of refocusing or perhaps a total redirection of your life journey.  My counsel to you in this early new year is that:

  1. Wait on God so that you know that you’ve heard His word to you.  “The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life.”  John 6:63
  2. Begin by acting on the word.  I can’t tell you what this may mean for you, but it is a specific step of obedience.  It may be small at first, but if it’s from God, it will eventually require a level of sacrifice and uncertainty.  These are the very things that bless the heart of God because they are an expression of our ultimate trust in Him and not ourselves!

There were numerous times over the following years when we were called to take steps of faith and obedience, not knowing the final destination.  However, it was those same steps that brought the blessing of God upon our work and established our church and allowed authentic Christian community to  grow, not just here in the North Hills but throughout our city.

I’m thankful that this New Year also brings an opportunity for new adventure.  I pray you will not draw back if that destination is unclear.  Rather, lean more fully on Jesus and you will discover the blessings of a life of faith which are more precious than all the gold and silver this world can offer.

Blessed New Year!

Pastor Jay

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