Fifteen years ago, I could be found thirty feet in the air hanging lights….in the dark. With only ambient light from the houselights below and a few other small lights around me, I carried heavy theater lamps up a catwalk above the Valborg Theater stage at Appalachian State University and hung them on battens focusing them towards the stage.
I was not deathly fearful of heights, but on the first day of working backstage for my Theater Lighting Design class, I was not thrilled at the prospect of facing this new unknown challenge.
And such is life… You take on a new responsibility. You decide to lead a group at church or work for the first time. You accept a marriage proposal. You have a family. All may be considered stepping out of a comfort zone and into the unknown.
For some people the possibility arises, and out of fear, they choose not to take the chance. For others, it may seem as daunting as Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water, but they take the step forward. What is the difference between these two people?
Fear-Motivated Decision Making Vs. Faith-Driven Decision Making
For someone struggling with taking a leap of faith, the words “fear-motivated decision making” may be cringe-inducing. It hurts to think that you have kept yourself from a richer life based on your fear.
When you see people make courageous decisions or step into leadership positions, you may think “better him/her than me” or “I could never do such a thing.” Sometimes, however, that person cannot say no to the opportunity before them.
For instance, if I had refused to hang lights, I would have flunked lighting design. At some point, some fear-motivated people long to take the plunge into new opportunities, but are not quite sure how to overcome the fear.
Me-Dependent Vs. Lord-Led
When faced with a difficult situation, what do you do? Or better yet, who do you turn to? Most people lean upon their own understanding. They say, “I can handle this myself”, then they proceed to feel themselves spinning like a muddy tire in slick rut. This is what happens when we depend on our own understanding and our own power. If you find yourself stuck in that rut, what can you do?
In “Jesus Calling”, Sarah Young likens our understanding to the tip of an iceberg, compared to the entirety of God’s understanding. It is important to be aware that how we see things may actually be far from what is true.
We need to remember the resurrection power of Jesus. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that He has gifted it to us when we accept His salvation. 2 Corinthians 5:7 states that Christians, “walk by faith, not by sight.” Apostle Paul describes our earthly limitations of living in a human body, and how walking by faith better prepares us from an eternal perspective.
The “Lord I Don’t Know What to Pray” Prayer
It is not uncommon for an individual’s prayer life to suffer when they are self-dependent. As a Christian counselor, there are times where prayer becomes a topic of discussion. I often hear “I want to pray, I just don’t know what to say”.
My response is, “how about saying what you just said to God?” It would be far better to keep the line of communication open to God by saying “I don’t know what to say, help me find the words” rather than keeping the line closed to communication.
He wants to see that willingness. He can work with that. Because He has given us the gift of free will, we have to want it. He cannot force us to want it.
Out of Weakness God is Glorified
Moses was not a self-described public speaker, instead when it was his time to become one, he said, “How about my brother Aaron?” And how about David the shepherd boy? A soldier did not take down Goliath that day. Even Paul, who hated Christ followers, became one of the greatest ambassadors for the love of Christ ever known.
Each significant biblical figure was completely fallible…and beloved. That’s what we are. Rather than trying to fashion an experience where we try to avoid difficulties at all costs, how about using these people as examples? Each person ended up being blessed by throwing aside their fears for what God called them to do.
Your Comfort Zone Defined
What’s Your Comfort Zone? In order to figure this out, examine what you try to avoid, and how you go about avoiding it. If you cannot find your comfort zone, ask the Lord for wisdom regarding what is keeping you from the blessing of stepping out (of your comfort zone) in faith. Look at your relationships. Our God is a relational God. Examine the areas of weaknesses. Is there something you are withholding?
Questions to Consider
1) What (places, activities, etc.) and/or who do you avoid?
2) How do you go about avoiding it? (Is it by a negative behavior or coping mechanism?)
3) How have you and others suffered by avoiding it? (Have you developed resentment or bitterness as wall to protect you? Have relationships been damaged because of your fear?)