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Intersection of Life and Faith

Do I Have to be Brave to be a Christian?

  • Jennifer Heeren Crosswalk Contributing Writer
  • 2014 7 Jul
  • COMMENTS
Do I Have to be Brave to be a Christian?

The adolescent me stood on the bright white, springy board. The sun beat on the tops of my shoulders. My eyes fixed on the clear blue, inviting water below.

“One…two…three…” Voices of my friend and her mother chanted.

I still stood there longing to jump into the refreshing, cool water but feeling held back by something.

“It’s okay.” My friend tried to calm me. “When we get to three, hold your breath and jump. Don’t think about it.”

I gave a half-nod that portrayed my half-hearted desire.

“One…two…three…”

Still my feet remained planted on that white board.

After much more prodding and coaxing, I did eventually jump into that pool on that afternoon.

I’ve always been a wader. Some people are divers. They jump right in without any forethought except the fact that they are hot and the water is cool. I prefer to walk into a pool and then slowly go deeper and deeper until I’m completely wet and submerged. The Bible describes something similar in Ezekiel. In a vision, a man is led along slowly and incrementally.

Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through (Ezekiel 47:3-5).

Baby steps seem to be okay with God. The only problem with them is my tendency to go too slow. So slow that I stall. I overanalyze the situation. Overanalyzing leads to worry and fear and eventually to paralysis. The crux of the problem is really that I’m thinking more of my liabilities than I am of God’s strengths. I’m not trusting.

Sometimes I get a sensing of something I should say or do to help or encourage someone. It seems like it’s the Holy Spirit whispering these promptings to me but I drag my feet about doing it. I think, “That might be helpful but there’s no time right now. I’ll do it later.” Or, “I might be hearing something wrong. What if they think I’m just being nosy?” Probably the underlying cause of my reluctance is worrying about what other people might think. Maybe they won’t have time to talk to me, or worse, what if they don’t want to hear from me. Maybe they’ll think what I have to say is dumb or unnecessary. Maybe I’m not the right person to speak that message. If I ask myself enough questions about my motives and abilities, I can talk myself out of any possibility of helping another person and miss opportunities to be used by God.

Then I think about a lady that I met on a crowded bus. I noticed her because she offered her seat to another person. Then another stop later, a space opened up and she sat down again. A few moments later, more people got on that bus and she gave up her seat again. This repeated another time. She didn’t seem to think about it at all. She just helped. Not only was I a bit amazed but I also felt conviction because I wasn’t doing that. So, I offered my seat to the next person that needed one. Her diving in to the situation was contagious and encouraged me to want to help as well.

Going too slow because of doubting is a problem, but slow and steady progress is okay. As long as I continue to go from one step to the next in a smooth progression, I’m moving forward. Momentum over the long run is best achieved by keeping a steady pace often called the marathon mentality. Moreover, when I think more of God’s love and his abilities through me, it negates my small notions about my own abilities.

Breaking anything that you want to accomplish into multiple small steps is the key. Instead of saying you’ll lose 30 pounds by the end of the year, say you’ll lose 2 pounds this week. Reading the Bible in a year become a few chapters per day. Eating healthier becomes one meal at a time. When you reach one mini-goal, re-evaluate and go on to the next mini-goal. Keep re-evaluating until all of a sudden you hit your larger goal.

I can be so easily overwhelmed and confused as well as stifled by the perfectionism that can keep me from starting anything and I spiral down into mediocrity. One small task at a time is enough for my little brain to handle. But when multiple small tasks are completed, I gain the momentum to continue to push me forward and therefore spiral upward every once in a while.

Any goal can be broken down into little goals. Then instead of finding fulfillment eventually you’ll find fulfillment a little bit every week. It makes the journey more joyful instead of frustrating. And your small but continuous steps just might encourage someone else to do the same.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin… (Zechariah 4:10).

Jennifer Heeren has always loved to write. For more than a decade, she has enjoyed writing encouraging blog messages. She loves to write things that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk.com and has also been published on ChristianDevotions.us. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at www.jenniferheeren.com.

Publication date: July 24, 2014