Tuesday, July 5, 2016

When a step of faith feels like a dive into the abyss

I didn't go to work today. Yes, that was planned and no, I am not playing hooky. Today is my step of faith.

A couple months ago, I was working over 80 hours a week between my "day job" and my ministry with Safe Families. I was physically exhausted and emotionally spent, and God whispered into my heart, "It's time." Time to cut back my hours at work, time to make myself more available to the needs of others. Time to take a step of faith.

It really is just a step. A tiny one, actually. A leap would have been quitting my job, and I am only going to part time hours. But not going to work today feels a little like falling, like I'm diving into the unknown.

As I sit here, sipping my coffee and listening to the sound of the washing machine running, I'm not sure what all this means. I know I'm losing benefits, a significant portion of my salary, and the luxury of security. I know I will be relying on God's provision more than ever now. I know that I am available and ready for whatever is to come. But I have no idea what that is or what it will look like. Thus, the abyss.

Do you ever feel like a couch potato when it comes to matters of faith? Like a tiny step takes every mustered ounce of your strength? I know I much prefer what is comfortable and familiar. It would be so much easier if I quit my ministry, not my job. And believe me, I think about that kind of quitting just about, um, every day. I keep inching forward on wobbly legs not because it is easy or fun, but because that whisper compels me.

"When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, 'This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.' But he answered them, 'You give them something to eat'" (From Mark 6).

You give them something to eat.

Why the bread and fish? After all, the people could have easily found a meal elsewhere. Or had empty stomachs for a night. No harm, no foul. At first glance, this seems like kind of a "small" miracle to me, nestled between accounts of Jesus healing the sick, raising the dead, and calming storms. But then I notice...Jesus was inviting his friends into the miraculous. He didn't say, "Poof! Come get your grub, people!" He had the disciples take inventory of what was there, and he had the disciples distribute the food to the people. He blessed the food and multiplied it; they did everything else.

Do you think he was letting them practice their small faith? To flex the same muscle of trust and obedience that would one day become strong enough to do things like build the early church and write what would become Biblical cannon and sacrifice their very lives for the sake of the call? Jesus didn't need his friends' help, but he invited them participate in what he was already doing. He gave them an opportunity to get up off the proverbial couch and take a wobbly step of faith.

What is your wobbly step of faith today? For me, it is not going to work. It is making myself available for what is to come, even though I don't yet know what that is. And today, I am going to whisper thanks to a God who allows me to practice taking wobbly steps of trust and obedience on this journey of faith.