by Jennifer Slattery @JenSlattery
“God wants those who belong to Him to be brave and fearless. He Himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by the courage of the Spirit.” ~ Tertullian
I felt squeezed. In every direction. Sleep deprived and with more on my to-do list than I could possibly accomplish, pressing deadlines, and an upcoming speaking engagement I hadn’t begun to prepare for, all made me feel ready to explode. Or hide.
My brain, held captive by my insecurities and fears, refused to function. At a time I most needed it to shine.
I was afraid that I’d fail, and in failing I’d let everyone down. The conference director who had already purchased my plane ticket. Her team who had already sent out their promotional material, listing me as one of the keynotes. Their attendees, who had spent good money on the conference and were expecting to hear a fresh word.
And more than that, I was afraid I’d look stupid. As I stared at a blank computer screen, my eyes gritty from lack of sleep, my nerves tightly coiled, I worried I wouldn’t come up with anything.
I had nothing. No words. No thoughts.
I suppose that writer’s block came from the mounting stress, coupled with sheer exhaustion. In the middle of taking accelerated classes and with an already booked summer, God called my husband and I to something incredibly difficult. Something that took every ounce of strength we had and left me in tears daily. We knew this task was from God. But … what about all our other commitments?
I couldn’t simply walk away. But neither could I, it seemed, walk forward. All my insecurities kept chipping away at my strength.
So what did I do? I stepped away. To pray. To give this thing, this task I felt ill-equipped and ill-prepared for, to God. And as I sat in His presence, His peace overshadowed my anxiety, and His truth stilled my fears.
I knew He’d called me to this engagement, so I decided—yes. I made the choice to trust God to give me the ability to fill this role–as He desired. And I reminded myself that this wasn’t about me. Nor was it up to me. It never is. In fact, it’s when I’m resting fully in His grace and leaning deepest into Him that I find my greatest strength.
Consider Francis Chan’s words, taken from Forgotten God: “How much it grieves [God] to watch His children ignore the promises He’s made throughout Scripture, due to fear that those promises won’t be kept! Empowering His children with the strength of the Holy Spirit is something the Father wants to do. It’s not something we have to talk Him into. He genuinely wants to see us walk in His strength.”
Walking in God’s strength. Listening, with a surrendered heart, for His guidance, then stepping forward in faith, trusting Him to come through.
In John 15:5, Jesus told us how we can live empowered in any situation: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing” (NIV).
With Him, in Him, we have everything we need to do whatever He calls us to. Apart from, operating in our own strength, we’ll likely make a mess of things.
Is there something God has called you to, something that makes your stomach tighten and your knees wobble? Maybe to initiate conversation with a new neighbor or launch a women’s Bible study? Maybe share your faith with a friend or coworker? If so, how does remembering God will be strong on your behalf, that you don’t have to be, give you courage? What are some ways you can lean into Him and rest in His strength? How do our thoughts play into that?
We all struggle with negative thinking, and so often, we become our own limiting factor. We allow our insecurities and fears to hinder our obedience and to prevent us from living out the awesome and life-changing role God hand-crafted each of us to fill. God calls us to greatness. To live courageously. To be life-changers.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV
About the author: Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, and speaker who’s addressed women’s groups, church groups, Bible studies, and writers across the nation. She’s the author of six contemporary novels and maintains a devotional blog found at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com. She has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, (http://whollyloved.com) she and her team partner with churches to facilitate events designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates
Join the conversation: What has God called you to that will require courage to obey?