Have you ever felt God calling you to do something that just seemed too hard?
Whether it’s being nice to the rude person at work or starting a new ministry, God sure knows how to stretch us in ways we could never imagine! Doesn’t He?
But I have to admit, when God pushes me like that, my first reaction is not usually one of cooperation. It’s a lot more like Jonah’s reaction when God asked him to go to Nineveh — RUN!
It’s an instinct, and a rebellious one at that, and it can leave us quivering with fear and guilt. But perhaps how we ultimately respond to God’s call is more important than our initial reaction. I sure hope so!
Several months ago, I started wrestling with a call from God when I stumbled upon a touching story about impoverished children living in a remote village. I could feel God tugging at my heart the way He did Jonah’s in the Bible. He was asking me to help these people.
So I checked into it and, as I did, the anxiety welled up inside of me. There was such a staggering need and endless ways to help. After researching for hours, the enormity of the problem left me feeling paralyzed. And in the end, I did nothing to help.
I hid from God and let myself believe it was no big deal. Slowly those children slipped from my mind — for a while.
Then, one day as I was reading the Bible, it was like the words from James were speaking directly to me.
Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:15-17)
As those words bounced around in my heart, it felt like the spiritual equivalent of being eaten by a whale.
I realized my heart was in a cold, dark place just like Jonah when he sat in the belly of that whale. I could feel God calling me to help. But the problem remained — where should I start?
So I did the only thing I could; I prayed and asked God to guide me. Then I promptly forgot all about it…everything…again. (I can only imagine the deep sighs my behavior must elicit from God sometimes!)
I forgot, but God didn’t forget.
Instead, months later, He put the message of Hebrews 3:15 on my heart: “If today you hear my voice, harden not your hearts.” Over and over this verse came to my mind, and at one point I actually asked God, “Okay, what are you getting at?”
His message was made clear soon enough in the form of a post written by Bonnie Gray who was traveling to the Dominican Republic to visit impoverished children needing sponsors. She linked to a charity where you could sponsor a child.
And somehow I knew if I clicked away I’d be making a choice. I’d be saying no to God — hardening my heart.
So naturally I signed up to sponsor a child right away
…okay, no I didn’t.
Instead I stalled.
I did some research on the charity and found that Compassion International has a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator. They are one of the leading charities of their kind.
Then I scrolled through the pictures of the children, and the name of one caught my eye: Josnifer. Her name was similar to mine, and it reminded me of something silly my sister would call me.
So I paused and read about Josnifer, a 4-year-old little girl living in the Dominican Republic. She had been waiting for over a year for a sponsor, and as I looked at her smiling face my heart was moved. Finally, finally I signed up to sponsor my first child, Josnifer.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
Our anxiety has a way of freezing us in place when God calls us. Often it is because we are thinking on a large, grand, God-like scale.
But perhaps He is calling us to do one small thing — to be faithful in the little things.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. (Luke 16:10)
Praying today that we can all overcome our anxiety and follow God in the small ways of our lives.