Thought For The Weekby Pastor David Alexander
I have often described myself as a “risk-averse” person.
I have no plans to ever jump out of a fully functioning airplane. I try to avoid what I perceive to be “unnecessary” risks.
As a kid I was taught to “always think before I act.” I still try to live by that wisdom today.
At the same time, in recent months I have felt God challenging me to stop seeing and describing myself this way.
The most recent instance of this happened this past Sunday while I was preaching on learning to live a financially generous life. Near the end of the message at 9:30, God brought the image to my mind of watching both of my kids preparing to take their first leap off the high dive.
Perhaps you can remember doing that yourself for the first time. Standing on the ground it seemed simple, but when you climb the ladder and looked out over the end of the diving board, the water seemed so far away.
Both of my kids did what I remembered doing. Before that first leap, they climbed the ladder, looked out and turned around. Then, regaining some courage, they walked back out for a second look before they retreated again.
And they did over and over again with the same hope held by all of us facing a moment of uncertainty, which is that at some point the fear of taking that leap would somehow disappear.
And the good news is that eventually, it does. At the very least, our fear begins to shrink.
But that never happens before we simply make the decision to jump for the first time.
There is no faith without fear.
A life spent running from vulnerability and discomfort is no life at all.
“Those who want to save their life,” Jesus said…
Do you remember the rest? I only ask because I sometimes forget.
“Those who want to save their life... will lose it.”
Now if you are curious as to why God has been challenging your pastor in this particular way, I hope that - with grace - you would allow me the chance to do something hard and share some of my own confessions.
I often find myself feeling ill-equipped.
I worry more than I should.
I hate the thought that I might disappoint others.
I find myself comparing the weakness I see in myself with the strength I perceive in others.
I am sometimes nervous when meeting new people.
I could certainly share more, but I will go ahead and jump to one of the hardest things for me to admit.
I know that Jesus loves me. I truly believe that with all my heart, but I sometimes wonder if he is proud of who I am and the work that I do.
At this point, I know that most of these sound ridiculous to you just as many of your fears would sound to me. When I’m visiting with someone who uses words to describe themselves in an overly critical way, I will often ask this question:
If the ten people who know you best were in this room right now, would they agree with what you just said?
No one has ever responded by saying,
“Yes! The ten people who know me best would absolutely agree!”
Fear is what keeps us staring over the edge.
Fear seeks to paralyze and prevent us from taking that next critical step we need to take.
Fear is a liar and these confessions are just a few of the lies fear likes to whisper in my ear.
Fear hates being exposed for what it really is… a constant adversary to the life we build on faith.
Which is why the image of my kids walking back and forth on that high dive was not the only image God placed on my heart this weekend.
Alongside it was the image from just a few weeks ago watching my son do a front flip for the first time off of that same high dive where he took his first leap of faith.
You are doing better than you think you are.
You may actually be in the middle of the worst thing in life, but the promise of faith is that it will not be the last thing in your life.
The only way to truly fail is to quit.
And when quitting feels like the only option left, find peace in the promise that God will never quit on you.
If you hear nothing else from God today, I’m absolutely convinced that the words God would most want you and me to hear are these.
I love you and I am proud of you.
So be brave dear friends.
Put fear in its proper place.
Invite fear to take a back seat in your heart.
And let faith have the chance to speak and take the lead in your life.
Grace & Peace,