Everyone like to be “safe” – Our comfort zones are , well. COMFORTABLE! And we like it that way. I want to be somewhere more frightening.
To quote a candy bar sales jingle, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.”
(For those of you reading a translated version of today’s devotional, you should be aware that “being nuts” is an English idiom for having lost one’s mind.)
Not to equate our walk of faith with insanity, but sometimes God calls us to step out into places well beyond our capability. As we do so, it is not uncommon to feel like the person in the image that accompanies today’s devotional – alone in a barren place. Places that require us to rely upon God in ways we may never have imagined. Places that make us look like we’re nuts.
You see it all throughout the bible. We can read the stories and overlook how the person must have felt BEFORE they saw how God was going to follow through. Significant steps of faith have every possibility of making us appear utterly foolish … if God doesn’t step in and follow through.
How about Jesus inviting Peter to join Him as He walked upon the water? It’s easy for us to look at how the wind and the waves caused Peter to doubt, but don’t forget that he WAS walking on the water, too! Think about what must have been going through his mind as he was deciding whether or not to step out of the boat.
Or what about when Jesus gave a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish to the apostles and invited them to distribute it to a crowd of thousands? Can you imagine holding half a pita in your hands as you stride over to a family of five or six hungry people? Remember, they had never seen Jesus multiply food before. They were simply called to step into an impossible situation … and obey.
Can you imagine how the servants of Mary and Martha felt when they returned to Bethany with Jesus’ promise for Lazarus that “this will not end in death” … and found him dead and in the grave? Let’s not over-spiritualize it; for all intents and purposes it appeared to these messengers of hope that Jesus had lied to them, or at least was very wrong. They were called to stand in an impossible situation … and trust.
How can you and I find the strength to do that?
The answer is in today’s verse:
DRAW NEAR TO GOD, AND HE WILL DRAW NEAR TO YOU
God challenges us to draw near to Him as we face challenges that would tempt us to run away. He never forsakes us, never abandons us. He promises that as we determine to draw near to Him we will not be the only ones making that effort.
I have mentioned before that any step of faith can be considered a foolish risk at some point. Whether walking in places that appear impossible or holding onto promises that look as though they have already failed, God calls us to draw near to Him … and trust. He wants us to draw near to Him, deliberately lay our fears aside and choose to trust Him. This is real courage.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something greater than fear is more significant, and worthy of the potential sacrifice.
DRAW NEAR TO GOD, AND HE WILL DRAW NEAR TO YOU
Even the act of drawing near to God requires faith and courage.
I am reminded of a scene in C.S. Lewis’ classic book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe when Peter and Susan are told that “Aslan is on the move” and have no idea who Aslan is. In this mythical story, Aslan is an image of Jesus Christ; and God the Father is known as the Great Emperor Beyond the Sea. Let’s listen in for a moment as Peter and Susan have a chat with the two beavers that are helping them.
“Who is Aslan?” asked Susan. “Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver, “Why don’t you know? He’s the King. . . . It is he, not you, that will save Mr. Tumnus. . . .” “Is—is he a man?” asked Lucy. “Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion—the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh!” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” “I’m longing to see him,” said Peter, “even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.”
I just love the question !!!! “Who said anything about safe?”
I don’t want a “safe faith” – but rather one that requires me to draw near to a fearsome and powerful God who loves me and empowers me to serve Him in ways beyond my capacity and capability. Not safe, but good; and one who has my good at heart. One who will draw me closer to Him so that He can use me in greater and greater ways. Ways that may appear impossible to me, but ways that are easy to Him.
I want to deliberately draw near to God, and watch Him fulfill His promises. And if it appears as though I’m alone in a desert to others, I know better. He is everywhere. He is with me when He sends me, He is with me along the way, and He is already there where He sent me and waiting for me to arrive. He is not only everyWHERE, He is everyWHEN. There is no time and no place where I can go that He is not there already.
Like Peter speaking to Mr. Beaver, I’m longing to see Him, even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.
As I draw near, He does the same; and He is already where He is drawing me to.
He said He would draw near.
He said He would never leave me or forsake me.
He said He was faithful and true.
He said He was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Who said anything about safe ?