Habits of a Transforming Heart: Stepping
This article is part of a larger series called Habits of a Transforming Heart. You can see the other articles in the series here:
- Part 1: How CanI Really Change? – Surrender
- Part 2: How Will God React to My Mess? – Staring
- Part 3: Why Can’t I Stop Myself? – Stopping
- Part 4: Why Can’t I Keep Going? – Stepping
“Why Can’t I Keep Going?”
I ask myself, looking at the start and stop pattern in most of my endeavors. I work up the courage to start something and announce it to the world: new studies, new hobby, new habit, new passion, new life direction. But as pressure mounts, my resolve to follow through wanes, I freeze, and I cower back to safe shadows, hoping the crowd I called wasn’t watching. But they were, and so was my inner critic.
The next step out of the shadows is even harder than the first. I even construct a shelter in the darkness to make my hideout permanent. I tell myself Jesus doesn’t want me to bring attention to myself by stepping out, that I’m just being “humble” – so I trade my God-given destiny for manageable smallness.
But Jesus says:
You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. – Matthew 5:14-16 NLT
Thanks, Jesus, I think, more pressure. The pressure to be a perfect Christian can really be intense, and Jesus doesn’t seem to give an inch on his holy standards. Pressure is what got me freezing up in the first place.
So instead of being afraid of failing in front of my friends and family, I become afraid of failing Jesus. I bury my proverbial talent in the ground. Still I don’t move. Not an inch forward in my God-given journey into the light, being salt and light, bringing praise to my Heavenly Father.
There’s a vicious four letter word that sums up my true obstacle: Fear. It shakes my faith to the knees. Notice it’s not pressure. Pressure is a part of living. With no pressure, we’d all be couch potatoes.
So what exactly is fear? It’s my whole-person response to the moment when I realize my resources are outmatched by the pressure. I realize in my current state, I can’t hold up under the demands I face or under the standard of holiness Jesus sets. In that way, fear is accurate. I am not enough.
A new habit I do in the face of fear is stepping. But not by sheer will power. With the aid of the Holy Spirit inside me, I step into a conversation with my Fear.
Fear: “So how will you ever get out of the shadows?” Me: “By taking the first step.” Take the first step, I tell myself.
“How can you ever take the first step?” Fear asks. “By trusting that I can get to where I’m going.” I can get to where I’m going.
“How can you trust that you can get there?” “By knowing I have the resources” I have the resources.
“How can you have the resources? You just said you didn’t.” “By walking with Jesus.” Jesus walks with me. He has the resources.
“How can Jesus walk with you, of all people? “By knowing and accepting He loves me enough to die for me.” Jesus loves me.
“How can Jesus love you, the worst of sinners?” “By his infinite measure of Love as God. He can do all things infinitely because He is God.” Jesus can do all things.
“How can Jesus do everything because He is God?” “By being who He is. I AM THAT I AM is God’s name.” God is Who He is. Nothing can change that Everlasting Fact, not even you, Fear of my puny human brain.
And He is with me, so I have all that I need to take this, my first step.
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. – 1 John 4:16-19
Further Reading: Believing God by Beth Moore *